Sunday, September 28, 2008

Almost done!

I slept in this morning, which was quite lovely. I came downstairs and looked again at the kitchen (which held up to a very pleasant girls' night last night, I might add) and am still so happy with our new floor and the whole package altogether, really. I think the most satisfying thing was going back to our punch list and crossing off almost all of it! What's left now are the moldings, the baseboards and thresholds, the backsplash, and then we get to call a plumber and have our water line installed so we can have ice and water in our fridge finally.

We've come a long way. We learned a whole lot, swore a lot, and gotten a few cuts and bruises, but overall I think it's been totally worth it. Here are some before and afters once again.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Kitchen Floor - Part Deux

It's in! And it's gorgeous! I'm very happy with our new cork floor in the kitchen and, once again, have to give a big shout-out to Paul, who really did most of the hard work. You saw what we did last night (along with lovely Leslie's help!), which constituted a lot of the "hard" work. This morning, we started at 7am and put the underlayment down and then went ahead and got started.

Below is the first course, which was probably the toughest. It was a lot of making sure it went in right and the cuts, particularly around the heater pipes, were correct. Once that was in, it was pretty much smooth sailing. While the directions didn't suggest doing so, we did stagger the seams, which I think makes it look better and is much stronger.

I would definitely recommend this product (HD ordered - $2.99 sq ft) and this project to anyone. While we of course still will have to put the thresholds and baseboards back in as well as a bit of quarter-round here and there, it's pretty much done. Altogether, it took 3 hours to do the prep work, including removing thresholds and cutting out the door casings. And then about 3 and a half hours to do the actual floor (the kitchen is 13x14).

One tip I would have is to definitely buy the little kit you can find at HD for installing engineered floors. It came with a tapping block, the spacers, and a metal pull bar. It was about $20 and wasn't recommended in the directions but it made the whole thing a lot easier, in my opinion. Besides that, it was just a jigsaw and a circular saw to do the rest. Easy-peasey.

Friday, September 26, 2008

New kitchen floor - Part I

Paul and Leslie called around 6pm, wanting to know if I wanted to get started early on the floor in the kitchen. I said, of course, and we listened to the debate while we started prepping the kitchen. The first task was dislodging the four thresholds (basement, hallway, dining room, mudroom). Three came out relatively easily but the last one, leading to the mudroom, was a bit different. This required actually cutting off a piece of it as it was originally the threshold leading outside to the back porch. I don't know what we'll have to do with that but that will be at some point later.
Then it was removing baseboards and undercutting the door casings. I was happy to use my newly purhcased jamb saw - which is totally awesome, by the way - and then Paul came in with a chisel to get out the rest.
With moving the appliances, it took about 3 hours to do those few things. I'm going to get up at the butt-crack of dawn tomorrow to run to HD. I was told, by the HD people, to buy vapor barrier even though this is an above-grade installation. Paul recommends (as do the directions) to just use polyethylene underlayment so I will be getting some of dat instead. Paul will be here bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed at 7am. I hope we can nail out this puppy in a few hours - I'm trying not be overly optimistic though; as I should know by now, it never is as easy as it seems.
I'll show you what I can when it's done! Say goodbye, ugly, asbestos-laden vinyl!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Some miter nice work

I've been putting off the daunting task of reattaching the trim to the top of our cabinets. When we pulled down the soffits this summer there was a long expanse of trim over the window and when it came down, so did a bunch of the attached cabinet trim. What this meant was not only did it need to be put back up, but it needed to be recut and [insert music of impending doom here] mitered. 

I was honestly freaked out about doing this. Not only was my last dose of geometry in the 10th grade but, for some reason, cutting angles seemed scary to me. I sucked it up today and bought a $14 miter box from HD and decided to give it the old college try.

For my first attempt, I feel pretty good about it - especially without power tools. It's not perfect (the home improvement mantra in the Bangor Foursquare) but it's better than it was (the new addendum to the home improvement mantra). 

I've definitely got the home improvement bug back, that's for sure. I think I over-exhausted myself this summer but now with a month off I feel it pulling me back in - so much so that I think I'm going to put up the crown molding myself this weekend (Thom's going home to Seattle to visit) and we've got renewed vigor to do the floor next weekend when he's back. Huzzah! 

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Miscellaneous work today

We had originally planned to do some weatherstripping today but upon finding out how much all that crap really costs, we have decided to put it off until Thom gets back from Seattle in two weeks. We spent the day then doing some miscellaneous tasks around the Bangor Foursquare.

First, was flipping our mattress - it's a king size foam mattress so this was no easy task. Upon flipping, we found myriad vomit piles our cat had kindly left us. This disgusting mess prompted a deep cleaning of the entire house, including all rugs, comforters, pillows, and blankets, not to menton some major mopping. Yuck!

Second, was finally cleaning our hardwood floors downstairs. I know, I'm embarrassed to admit it, but we finally cleaned our newly refinished floors (that's right, almost 8 months later). Of course we had been sweeping and Swiffering this whole time but we had not taken the chance to buy the stuff our floor refinishers had recommended, Bonakemi. Once I bought it a few months ago I was loathe to do it with all the kitchen debris and crap that was all over. Now that we've hit a bit of lull, it seemed like the right time to do it. This stuff works wonders! Our floors now look like they did when they were first refinished. Beautiful!

Third, was the lawn. It was time to mow and so we decided to re-seed a bit too. That's also marked off the list.

Next, we have been complaining about the lack of places for towels accessible to our shower in the bathroom. We had bought some hooks on clearance from Target a million years ago but had never hung them up. That is now done and it will be quite nice to have a place to hang clothes and towels instead of putting them on the toilet.

(As an aside, it looks like the days of the upstairs toilet are dwindling. We have been waiting to do the tile floor up there until we were ready to do the toilet at the same time - well, that time may be any day now, unfortunately.)

Thom also worked on putting up a few pictures in what he lovingly calls his "man village" upstairs. He found some nice little pin-type hooks from a company called Ook (they're called Ook Shields) at HD a while ago that do minimal damage to plaster walls and these seem to work well.

Finally, in the spirit of autumn and inspired by our visit to the Common Ground Fair yesterday (a very cool all-organic fair in Maine), I decorated a bit of the house with some mums, gourds, and fake leaves. I love fall! Hooray! I think we're going to go to the pumpkin patch when Thom returns to find a few pumpkins and some apples. I'm ready to bake and maybe make some yummy applesauce. Can't wait!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

It's not much, but it's something

As one might guess from the lack of regular blog updates, not much has been going on in terms of new work in the Bangor Foursquare. But, do not despair, eager readers, as some progress has been made.

While I teeter back and forth on the idea of bringing in a contractor to do the cork floor (it was expensive, okay, and I'm worried that if we flub this one, there's no take-backs), we did decide on the backsplash. While I originally wanted slate tile I found that it isn't easy to clean. Thom wanted subway tiles but I felt this was a bit too blah. Then we fell in love with glass tiles but found out that they were quite out of the budget. So, we compromised.

We found a website called where we were able to buy a few sheets of 1-inch glass tile mosaics for about $9 each. We're going to combine three of these 1-inch tiles along the side of the subway tiles, but placed randomly throughout the backsplash. This will break up a bit of the monotony of the plain subway tile and give us a bit of the glass we wanted. I think it will be a good compromise and the blue of the glass tiles really goes well with the paint. I don't know when I will be brave enough to put them up (I have never tiled before but have seen it done a million times on t.v.) but when they're up I think they will look really nice.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

New range hood

Ah, fair readers, we have returned with another kitchen project. After our hiatus, we decided to accomplish one more item on the Punch List: our new range hood. The old one worked intermittently and it was so disgustingly loud that I couldn't wait to get rid of it. This one now matches our fridge and range and is deliciously quiet. All that is left of the original ugliness is our dishwasher (well, and the floor of course). I'm supposed to get a bit of a check from my upcoming book so I think I may use the proceeds to buy that. 

Even better news, we didn't argue. It may be that we were trying to do too much at once or that we did projects that were too lengthy but this one, while not necessarily the easiest, was rather short and sweet (if you consider two hours short). The main trouble we ran into was getting the space in the back by the existing drywall to accommodate the wire. It required a bit of carving but we finally got it right. The floor is the last big project and that will probably be in a few more weeks. I'm anxious to have it done but have decided to let Thom and Paul do it. It's tough for me to have the last big project be done by someone else but I think it's good for the guys to have some bonding time and for me to be a little less Type A.

What's left on the Punch List:
* Molding
* Trim on top of cabinets
* Tile backsplash
* Floor
* Water connected to fridge/freezer

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The latest

I know it's been a while. After starting school last week and then getting our camera and laptop stolen, things have slowed down considerably. No new work on the kitchen but I am admittedly enjoying it. Even without it completely finished I love how the cabinets look painted with the awesome Ikea countertop. We are going to put up the new range hood this weekend so that will at least be some additional progress. I'll haul out the old digital camera to take some photos of that at least.

In the meantime, we got a letter from Bangor Gas, letting us know they were considering installing a gas line on our street. We were quite excited, particularly given the high cost of heating oil here in New England. We called a couple contractors to get an estimate on conversion to find out that with our extremely old furnace (we found the original bill of sale dating it at 1954 - yes, I'm actually serious) they wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole. When I asked the ballpark of a new furnace I was told around $7500. Obviously, we will not be getting natural gas this winter. I hope that some of my summer teaching/research money will be spent upgrading us, however. So that's that.

Not much else new. I spent a bit of time outside this past weekend digging up some iris bulbs for transplant and hope to buy a few tulips, daffodils, and hyacinth for the spring. That's really about it. We're waiting to put in the kitchen floor until we get some help from our superfriend Paul, which may be a few weeks. Like I said, I hope to update a bit this weekend but we'll be taking a bit of a hiatus for a bit - sorry, loyal readers.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Mean People Really Suck

You may recall that I was quite upset recently about the thief who stole my two peonies. Well, another jackhole broke into our house tonight and stole Thom's laptop and our digital camera. That's right, blog fans - no more digital photos for a while of the kitchen. Both things were not new nor expensive but it's just the idea that some stranger was in our house. Yuck. The weird thing was that these were the only things taken - only 10 feet away was Thom's Wii and his games, two checks on our mantle, and a bunch of power tools they walked by on the back porch. Probably stupid kids. I'm going to check out some pawn shops tomorrow and look for the stuff. Jerks. I'm thinking about putting another passive-aggressive note in the window. Any suggestions? I thought about saying something like "Cash reward for information on our stolen computer and camera" and then not actually giving out any reward when they tell us who did it. They'd probably steal more stuff then though. A-holes.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Cool find - I almost forgot!

I forgot to mention that yesterday when we were putting the doors and drawers back in the cabinets that Thom ran across these calendars on the bottom of one of the cabinets. They're all from 1978 - it seems like the decor was certainly from the '70s so maybe this is when the construction took place. If you look closely, they're all Jewish calendars with Hebrew, etc. We both grew up Gentile so we can't tell you much about them besides that but we've enjoyed learning more about the Jewish tradition of this neighborhood and this house. (Did I ever mention that we found mezuzahs in the doors and kept them up there? Well, we did.) It seems much of the neighborhood was built in the 1920s after The Great Fire to be within walking distance of the synagogues downtown. We like to pay homage to the home's history in whatever ways we can and learning more about the Jewish culture is one way we're doing that.

Giving thanks

Loyal readers know of my frequent shout-outs to people (like our friend Paul) who have helped us. Today I give thanks to the other important players in the kitchen renovation thus far: the tools. I'm sure I'll be able to identify a few more as we finish up the floor and put the molding back up but up to this point, these have been the starring actors in a supporting role:

Today's Savior: The Cabinet Hole Maker Thingee

We saw them at the store and we said, "Nah, we don't need it. We can measure." It's totally worth the three bucks, believe me. Once we had this thing we could just zip along making holes perfectly in proportion to all the rest. Totally worth it. Totally.
The Pinch Hitter: Paul's Awesome Drill

We bought a drill back before we got the house and I admit it, we bought a cheap one. It's kind of like eating low fat ice cream for a long time and then suddenly eating the real stuff - ooh, baby, it's gooooood. Paul's drill is the real ice cream. Ours is the froofy low fat stuff that's totally a piece of crap.
The Small Things in Life: A Good Tape Measure

This was another learning experience. We have a few cheapie tape measures but Paul's rocks the house. It's sturdy, it stays where you want it, and it's 25 feet long. You can't shake a stick at anything that would be longer.
The Underdog: Lady's Mate Tool Kit

Many have laughed at it but all have come to respect it. My mom bought me this tool kit back in college and it has been nothing but awesome incarnate. It has everything you need: hammer, tape measure (granted, a cheapie one - see above - but it works), both types of screwdrivers, a utility knife, a wrench, needle-nose pliers, electrical tape, assorted screws and nails, and a scissors. Not to mention that it's ALL pink. Hell yeah.

Thank you, dear friends - you were the true heroes in this production. I look forward to many more cherished moments with you again (well, not Paul's stuff...we have to give that back).

"It looks bigger, doesn't it?"

I think that after putting the cabinet doors back on last night and then the new hardware today I really started "feeling it." I think up to that point I was really fixated on all the little issues and problems instead of seeing the big picture. Seeing it today now makes me realize that we really have come a long way. I am starting to feel it now - yes, it looks better. Of course we have lots of little things to do (and a big thing: the floor) but it's better. We keep walking in and saying, "It looks bigger, doesn't it?" Definitely doing away with the dark cabinets and wainscoting was a good decision. Anyway, all in all, I am happy - despite my Type A tendencies. 

No witty title

I'm tired so not quite verbose but wanted to share that I got the drawers and most of the doors back on the cabinets today after cleaning out the entire contents of said cabinets and wiping them down. We also finished sealing the countertop so all should be ready to go. We went perusing for tile for the backsplash today but have not yet come to a decision. Thom is definitely sold on the shape of the subway tile but I'm not sure if slate or regular white ceramic is the way to go. I think the white would be classic and easy to clean but I love slate. Dunno.

I think tomorrow will be mostly a day off - maybe mopping the filthy floor and finally doing some dishes. I guess I'll put the cabinet hardware on, at the very least, so as to not mess up the nicely painted surface. Good night...