Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Creating Our Dream Kitchen - Defining The Space!

So last week's archaeology project was pretty depressing - but we're on a roller coaster here and this week was AMAZING!!!  It's hard to believe how much has changed in a couple of weeks.   

I've been dreaming about this kitchen since the first time we walked into the house.  Why?  Because there was open attic space above the existing kitchen and adjoining service porch.  That means a cathedral ceiling was a no brainer.  

Okay, so maybe it did require some brain power, because there was a lot of structural engineering required to achieve my vision - plus a lot of fancy engineered beams.  And of course our talented team had to tear it apart and put it back together again.  

How do you get giant beams in the house?  Through the window of course!

Here's the first peek of the ceiling getting opened up.

And the walls opening up

For those of you that are like me and need to see what's changing, here's the drawing that shows the walls we removed and how the ceilings are getting opened up.  
And was it worth all this trouble?  Well here's how much it's changed already.
See how the combination of the open ceiling and the doorway to the dining room makes it so spacious?

It's such a WOW when you walk in the door and see all that amazing space.  But we can't take a break - there is so much more to do.  Next up,  it's time to open up the back of the house!  Stay tuned! 

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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Some Days All You Can Say Is 'Wow'......the Kitchen Archaeology Project

I might have declared victory on the demo phase of the project a bit too soon.  True, the guys have started putting in some new posts and beams, but there are still some issues that have reared their ugly head.  

Full disclosure, we knew that the floor under the asbestos tile was likely to have some challenges.  But the reality was far worse than we expected.  When the guys peeled back the subfloor, we discovered that it wasn't just the sill (the big timber that sits on top of the foundation that has all the studs nailed to it) that was rotted, but the floor joists were in truly terrible shape.

This section of sill looked fine from the top, but when we rolled it over we found this!

This is the mess we found with the subfloor removed.  Wood rot everywhere
It smelled like compost when we pulled back the subfloor - probably because it is!

The floor joists are 3"x10" - big, heavy joists.  Which is probably a good thing, because even though they were rotted, they still held the floor up with support from only one end.  We repeated our mantra yet again "How is this house still standing?"

In the main section of the kitchen, we found similar sill issues.  And of course the studs above it are seriously compromised, having been cut away to install vents or simply left to rot.   Again - "How is this house still standing?"

So the guys ripped everything out.  It felt like a bit of an archeological expedition, as we opened up the crawl space of a very old building.  What did we find?  Nothing!  Not a single skeleton, money or artifact!  Instead we just have this odd view of the kitchen - isn't it weird to see all of the foundation and dirt floor exposed?

Such a strange view of the kitchen!

What's next you ask?  How can we keep this from happening again in another 30 years?  This is where building science takes over (and for those of you that don't need this detail - please skip ahead!).  

The window wall is 'floating' over old foundation while the work is done

Step 1 - try and prevent water from getting up against the foundation in the first place.  We have taken several steps to keep water away from the foundation (gutters, grading, etc), but this side of the house is at the  bottom of a hill and we're big fans of belt-and-suspenders mitigation, so we wanted to do more.  

Step 2 - so we raised the wooden sill.  Instead of putting a sill back where the old one was, we installed a course of concrete block on top of the stone foundation, to raise the wood up 8 inches.  We will waterproof the block from the outside, to keep water from using the block as a sponge.

Step 3 - install a sill gasket to separate the wood sill from the new concrete (this prevents any moisture coming up through capillary action) and install a new sill of pressure treated wood.  Now the wood is isolated from moisture!

This membrane will wrap all the way to the bottom of the foundation
Step 4 - Air seal the foundation with a plastic membrane.  This is critical to make the house more energy efficient.  We don't want any cold coming from the outside, through cracks in the old mortar.  We had a roll of roofing membrane on hand, so used that to seal up all around the exterior of the foundation. 

Step 5 - Install a vapor barrier on the dirt floor.  It's really important to get up any organic material before you do this step (if you skip this step, it can rot and create an odor issue later).  And yes, I vacuumed all the sawdust off the dirt - as usual the guys thought I was crazy.  This prevents any moisture from coming up from the ground.  The edges of the vapor barrier are sealed to the air barrier with a can of spray foam, to hold it in place and ensure it stays air tight.

Step 6 - When we install insulation, we will have closed cell spray foam sprayed up on the foundation walls, sealing to both the sill and the vapor barrier on the floor.  This will give us the air sealing and insulation we need to make this house energy efficient.

In the meantime, the guys have put all new joists into place and installed a subfloor (with a trap door, so we can get in there to do spray foam insulation).  With all of this in place, we can start on the rest of the kitchen framing.  

And I don't want to give too much away - but this kitchen is going to be AWESOME!!!  Here's a sneak peek of today's progress!

Future cathedral ceiling!!

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Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Temporary Living - Second Floor

As promised, here is an overview of the 2nd floor of our temporary house. We have three bedrooms and a bath.  And it's all in fine shape, but has a serious lack of closet space which we had to address right away.  Isn't that a problem in every old house? 😂 

Two of the bedrooms are almost identical in size.  We've chosen the first one as our primary bedroom and after a quick coat of paint, we moved our furniture in. 

 It has a decent sized closet, so that was helpful, although it only held about half of my clothes.

The second bedroom had a bigger challenge.  The closet is about 18" wide - not big enough to hold anything (except we can push suitcases into the back of it, where the sloped ceiling is).  It had another closet made of plywood - but it just made the room feel long and narrow.  

And it didn't have the drawers/shelves that I like to store clothes that can be folded.   So it had to go.  Thankfully once the wallpaper was removed, the baseboard was still in place and with a little paint it cleaned up nicely. 

A simple dresser and mirror makes the room feel MUCH bigger!

And for additional storage, we did our usual approach to increasing closet space - IKEA wardrobes.  With Pippa as my helper, we assembled them.
She likes to supervise!

They fit perfectly on either side of the radiator - and the mirrored sections are super helpful.  Now it's such a welcoming room with lots of storage space!

The back bedroom is a bit smaller, but it's perfect for my husband's office.  And for some odd reason, it has the biggest closet in the house!  Here is the starting point.

And this is once we moved all his stuff in.

The bathroom is really tight.  When we renovate the house, it will get a major makeover.  But for now, we're just added a mirror and some storage and it works for us.  And don't you love the built-in cabinet?

Bathroom - Before

The hallway has another built in, that works as a great linen closet.  This house has so many charming built ins.  You just don't find that in new homes!  And that's a mini-split heat pump you see in the ceiling (between the ugly light fixtures).  It's been great to have heating and cooling with a heat pump.

That light fixture is worse than a boob light!!!

So that's the tour.  It's a great house to use for temporary living - and with a few decorative touches, it really feels like home to us!  Plus, it's a short walk to restaurants, bakeries and the beach.  Pretty sweet!  

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