Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hi Tech Countertop Templating

Allright, so this post is for the geeks like me, that love to see how things are made.  I was completely fascinated when I saw how the folks at Granite Design could template our new granite countertops without any paper or wood templates.  We've had stone countertops installed in many of our houses over the years.  And it typically involves a couple of guys in a big truck with lots of luan plywood.  They spend hours scribing them against the wall and then take them back to their manufacturing site.

So, imagine my surprise when Isaac showed up in this cute little car, with nothing but a suitcase to create out granite templates.

Can you see the red dot in the middle of the wall?
He quickly set up the laser level assembly (much fancier than the one we have) and used it to identify the height of the top of the cabinets.  Then he traced the height that the granite will be across the entire back wall.  He electronically 'scribed' each laser point ever couple of inches across the entire wall.  See the red dots?  Each of those dots help create our CAD (Computer Aided Design) model.

This translated into this cool electronic template of our soon to be manufactured countertop.  Isaac takes the CAD model and uploads it into AutoCad.  This gets fed into their CNC machines at their fabrication plant.  They use a combination of diamond blades and high pressure water jets to cut the dimensions and then create the eased edge of our design.

Very cool, very fast and very efficient!

How does that impact their business?  Well, they're growing double digits each year.  They can manufacture 1600 square feet of countertop A DAY.  How does that work in the real world?  Well, our kitchen uses 28 square feet, this means they can create 57 kitchens every single day.  Amazing productivity!

We'll get our countertops in about 10 days.  Can't wait to see them installed!

Pin It

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Adding Architectural Detail

Our 1930's Cottage doesn't have a lot of architectural detail.  The window trim and moldings are very simple and there isn't much ornamentation.  So when we started thinking about adding the columns to the new opening between the foyer and the rest of the house, we wanted to make sure they were simple, but still added a nice architectural statement.

The starting point - cover the support beams

The solution - tapered posts anchored by square columns and the wall below.  All those complex angles (not to mention not quite plumb walls in an old house) went beyond our carpentry skills.  So Drew Mayer from Waterhouse Builders came out to give us a hand.  First step was to cover the LVL beams that were required when we removed the supporting wall.

Next,  Drew created the wooden cap for the wall.  And then the really tricky part - the tapered columns.

It was a challenging project, but after a few days, it really started to come together.  Now we can't wait to get them painted and see how they look in the finished room!

Pin It

Sunday, September 23, 2012

When Color Goes Wrong - Prison Cell Gray

I thought I had chosen the paint colors for the interior months ago (see story here).  I loved HGTV's Sedate Gray from Sherwin Williams.  It looked great with my fabric and the glass backsplash we'll be using in the kitchen.  I carried the paint chip with me everywhere and used it to pick things out.

But before I bought 5 gallons of it, I decided to buy a sample and make sure it was the right color for the house.  Good thing I did, because when I got it on the wall, it looked less like Sedate Gray and more like Prison Cell Gray (probably not a good name for marketing purposes).  It was too dark, given the light conditions in our house.  I tried to show it in this picture, but it doesn't quite do it justice - for its light sucking qualities.  Friends would stop by and try to be polite - "Really, that's the color you're painting the WHOLE house??  Interesting....."

So, I did a quick scramble and came up with a warmer hue - Early Morning Mist.  I started painting the kitchen with it this week and really like how it contrasts with the white cabinets and trim.  I'm so glad I did that paint sample!  What do you think?

Pin It

Thursday, September 20, 2012

50,000 Blog Views!!!!

Wow, we hit a major milestone today - 50,000 views!  Thanks to all of you for stopping by our blog to check out our progress, give us words of encouragement and help us work through the trials and tribulations of home renovation.  We really appreciate your support and hope you'll continue to provide input.  I really love to see your comments and hear your own experiences.  You're amazing!

I publish lots more photos on Facebook.  If you don't already 'like' us on Facebook, click here to be added.

Stay tuned, we're in the final stages of completing our latest project.  Lots of before and after photos coming soon!

Thanks again!!!!

Laurel Pin It

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Confession - I Love Old Toilets

I know, it's really odd.  But I love those old, tall toilets with the detailed tanks and bases.  When we were building our house several years ago, I went in search of these toilets and would come home from yard sales and salvage yards with my prizes (Richard, on the other hand, was totally disgusted with my finds).  And the neighbors started to talk when they were lined up in the yard!

Unfortunately, I soon learned that you can't pass a plumbing inspection with these toilets.  They use too much water and aren't allowed.  They also tend to be fragile and are prone to cracking.

So, I've tried to start liking new toilets.  And I must admit, I've become a fan of the new dual flush toilets.  They are incredibly practical and environmentally friendly.  So when Consumer Reports came out with their toilet ratings last month, I quickly scanned the results to see what they recommended.  The clear winner for 'best value' - a Glacier Bay model that look really nice.  We've just bought two of them for our new project.  The first one is installed and is looking good!!!

Pin It

Monday, September 17, 2012

It's Starting to Look Like a Kitchen!!!

There is still a lot to do before the kitchen is finished, but we've recently made some nice progress.  So we thought we would share a sneak peek.  And as a reminder, here's the original design:

-  The new maple floor is in and looks beautiful!

-  The Martha Stewart Seal Harbor cabinets are installed, as well as the stainless steel vent hood (covered in protective plastic for now!).  The granite guys are coming to template for the countertops next week.  And the new LG appliances will arrive soon.

The hutch and the bar/peninsula will get butcher block tops.
There's a lot more to do, but it's nice progress!  Is it starting to look like the plan?

Stay tuned, we'll have more pics soon.

- Pin It

Monday, September 10, 2012

Choosing Granite Countertops - Lessons Learned

We made a terrible mistake, the first time we installed granite countertops.  It was about 15 years ago and we were doing a major renovation of a big kitchen.  We looked at all the little samples at the kitchen design place and placed our order.  We were so excited, it was black and shiny and we thought it would look marvelous!

Six weeks later, they came to install the countertops and we found out that the lovely little sample we saw had very little resemblance to the granite that they put in our kitchen.  We had planned a beautiful cream and sage green color scheme and thought that black/brown granite we picked would be perfect.  Instead, we got black and teal green flecks - that looked terrible!

Lesson Learned - ALWAYS go to the granite fabricator to pick out the slab of granite that your countertop will be made from.  Since then, we've done many countertops and this has made a huge difference in the overall look of the kitchen.  Granite is a natural product and can have a lot of variation - swirls, color flecks and shade variation that might be dramatically different than what you hoped for.

Kashmir White Granite
So last week we did a little field trip and went to pick out our slab.  It was a huge warehouse in Massachusetts and they helped us pick through all the choices for our Kashmir White Granite.  We settled on this one with a tight knit grain.  Can't wait to see it installed!

Pin It

Friday, September 7, 2012

Brimfield - Mecca for Antiques and Oddities

I've heard about Brimfield's antique show for years, but never got to check it out.  They claim it's the biggest outdoor show in the US - 5000 dealers in tents, spread on either side of Rt 20 for a mile.  It brings in rock stars, collectors and regular folks like us.  So this year we were thrilled to take a day off and experience it for ourselves (okay, so I was thrilled, Richard a little less so).  Our daughter Katie wanted to tag along as well, so it was a family event.

What were we shopping for?  A full size headboard for one of the bedrooms in the house.   But since this is just for staging, we were hoping to get a huge bargain.  That's one of the cool things about Brimfield - they have everything from fine antiques to flea market finds.

So what did we learn?

1)  Dress down.  My friend Marc recommended we wear our usual home renovation work clothes.  And while I couldn't bring myself to go out in public in my paint splattered cut offs, we did find that you don't want to look too well off when you're trying to get a huge bargain.

2) Traffic can be awful, so it's good to get there early.  And you'll pay $5-7 for parking.

3)  They have some really funky stuff there!  We saw everything from  5' Beyonce chickens (and if you haven't read the the Bloggess account of Beyonce the chicken, you should read it now.  It's probably the funniest blog I've ever read!), to a metal indian to a giant Pillsbury Dough Boy.  And then there was the mountain of wooden lobster buoys that the couple from Nova Scotia brought in.
Mountain of Wooden Lobster Buoys from Nova Scotia
Hmm...where would you put this?

4)  The food choices are a lot like a state fair - fried everything.   Including Oreos, which our daughter Katie actually tried and liked! My advice, pack your lunch.

5)  You can find your bargain.  I got this old bed for $40.  I just love the carved circles up at the top.  It's missing a few pieces and needs a little TLC, but wait till you see it in the front bedroom.  We'll clean and paint it and it will look great!!!  The only downside, we had to schlepp it about half a mile to get it back to the car.

He's not quite as excited about the bed as I am!

All in all, it was a great experience.  It was worth the crowds, the traffic and the fried food.  Can't wait to go again next year!

Have you found any great bargains at Brimfield or a similar antiques show? Pin It

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

When to DIY - or Not!

In this challenging real estate market, we knew that we couldn't subcontract all the work and still make a profit when we sell a renovated house. So we always had an expectation that we would do a lot of the work ourselves - after all we love working on old houses. And we have lots of experience from all the work we've done in our homes over the years.

Dominic Dibiase - Succhini Plumbing
But we still had to decide what made sense to do ourselves. And where we needed other expertise.

Clearly, we couldn't do the electrical work and needed experienced professionals. The same for plumbing and heating.  We use licensed contractors for this kind of work.
Drew Mayer - Waterhouse Builders 

We feel the same about major construction - moving load bearing walls, new porches, new windows, etc.  This takes a lot of expertise (as well as muscle!) and we rely on experts who can do it a lot faster and safer than we can.  We also use contractors for big jobs like basement waterproofing and masonry repair.

And while we are certainly capable of installing drywall (we've done it many, many times), doing a ceiling would probably land us in divorce court.  It's not a fun husband and wife job!  So we'll leave that to the professionals.
Mike Backman - Waterhouse Builders

What other projects do we avoid?   Painting the exterior, way up high on a ladder??? No way!! Remember, I fell off of a paint bucket and broke my wrist and foot on our last project.  We leave that to professionals who can easily scale up to the top of houses (makes me dizzy just thinking about it!).

Finally, we think refinishing floors with a drum sander requires the skill of a professional. We would hate to mess up the beautiful old floors we find in these houses.  So for installing a new floor or refinishing existing floors, we leave that to the expert hands.

But for repairing drywall, trim work, installing kitchen cabinets, and painting - we can easily handle that. We also do our own tile work, some finish carpentry and simple plumbing like toilet replacement. I've also recently learned some new skills, like replacing art glass in old windows.  And best of all, the team of talented professionals that help us are always available with advice and guidance when we need some help.

What kinds of projects do you leave to professionals?  Or decide to do yourself?

Pin It
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...