Thursday, April 25, 2024

The Kitchen Design

I'll start this post by announcing right up front - many of you will hate me.  Why?  Because I can't make the amazing stainless steel sink work in the kitchen.  I know, I know - I love it too!  But I don't love it so much to make the kitchen dysfunctional. 

So here's the scoop.  There are multiple reasons why it won't work.   

1) It takes up too much counter space.  The old kitchen had the stove right against the exterior wall.  That's a really bad kitchen design - you want at least a 15" base cabinet on either side of the stove to hold pots/pans and cooking ingredients.  But when you push the stove over, you start to lose space for the sink (it's 6 feet long btw).   And while yes, it's possible to use the stainless steel wings on either side of the actual sink, they are both slanted drainboards, so they don't work well for lots of applications.

2) It requires a huge sink base cabinet to accommodate those extra wide sinks - which limits the number of useful base cabinets you can have (because we all know sink bases cabinets are the tall equivalent of a junk drawer!).  And in a small kitchen, every useful bit of cabinet space is precious.

3) It's extra thick, which makes it a challenge to install with typical countertop thicknesses.  You either need to lower the cabinets (a non-starter unless you install custom cabinets) or you have a weird change in height for the sink - which makes the counter space even more awkward. 

So reluctantly, I've decided not to use the amazing sink (I just need to find someone that will love it as much as I do!). 

Now for the next contentious item.  Several folks thought you could put a 1/2 bath in the kitchen.  And while technically true - a tiny powder room could fit where the refrigerator is - it makes the rest of the kitchen really awkward.  Refrigerators are big, bulky appliances and there isn't a logical place for it, unless you give up counter space and the open layout that we're working towards.

With all those caveats, let's talk about the actual kitchen design.  Because it's going to be pretty great! The main kitchen area will have the sink and stove as before - but now it will have a dishwasher!!!  Ah, the joys of a modern appliance.  That was one of the big drawbacks to the previous kitchen (particularly to my husband's way of thinking), but now that will be remedied.  We also got several upper cabinets and the guys will make a custom hood to go above the stove.

The refrigerator will be tucked back next to the fireplace flue as before.  But we tore out the old pantry and will install a new one as well as a set of cabinets that will have a microwave shelf built in. We don't want to lose any precious counter space in this kitchen! 

And what about color?  Well I know moody colored kitchen cabinets are currently popular.  But I'm just not ready to commit a potential buyer to a long term color choice.  So we are going with a basic white.  The counters will be quartz, because the low maintenance surface is a huge plus for any cook and they also look great.  And the backsplash is this fabulous marble mosaic.  

But the walls?  Well I may get a bit adventurous with color on the walls!  After all, they're easy to paint over if the buyers don't like it.  So stay tuned, it will be fun to see how it all comes together!  

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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The Guts of the House

Have you ever noticed on HGTV they never spend any time talking about plumbing, electrical and HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning).  I'm not sure if it's because it doesn't make 'good TV' and people would rather see paint colors and tile samples, or if that's how they make their budgets as low as possible.  The stuff in the basement and behind the walls is pricey! 

New laundry area with all new electrical and plumbing

Since we work on old homes that often have original wiring and plumbing, we take this stuff seriously!  And like most of the houses we work on, this one needed a lot of work.  

We are adding recessed lighting in the living room, kitchen and mudroom

Very few of the outlets are grounded, so they don't work well with modern appliances.  The bedrooms had 2 outlets each - one near the baseboard and one up high, possibly to plug in a sconce?   And there is no switch to turn on a light as you enter the room, which made me crazy!  I'm a huge fan of having an overhead light in each room, so we will be adding them.  Oh, and the kitchen was sadly lacking outlets. 

The new wiring is getting hidden under the flooring

Out with the old wiring - in with the new!

As mentioned in a previous post, the electrical panel needs to be moved - code enforcement frowned on having a panel above the toilet 😂.  With this change, the vast majority of the wiring in the house is being completely replaced.  Our amazing electricians have been on site for weeks getting everything done.  And while most people won't notice that the wall outlets are now grounded, they will notice that we have overhead lighting everywhere!

Since the bathroom is getting reconfigured, our plumber decided to rip out all the old plumbing and start from scratch.  That's faster and easier than trying to tie into old plumbing everywhere.  But it also created a couple of challenges - moving the toilet meant that the waste stack had to move, which meant that the kitchen window had to move, which meant that the sink had to move, which meant we have to patch the siding....well, you get the picture.....  It's why most people try to never move plumbing around.  It's an expensive proposition! 

Look at all that shiny new plumbing!!!

But doesn't it look great?  I'm so thrilled to see all that shiny new wiring and plumbing!  And the new homeowners will be so happy to have everything updated.

Getting ready for inspections!

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Wednesday, April 10, 2024

The Challenging Half Bath

This is the half bath.  It's in the basement (at the bottom of the stairs).  It's certainly not pretty.  And it has a big, big problem.

See that mirror and what looks like a cabinet?  It's the electrical panel.  Yup, right over top of the toilet. Building codes say you can't have anything within 3 feet of the electric panel - because you need space to  stand and work on it.  And anything involving water and electricity is a big no-no!

So the city building inspector said we could 1) move the electrical panel (big, big job that means moving all the electrical wiring that goes into it) or 2) leave the electrical panel and remove the bathroom, essentially making this an electrical closet.

Ugh, what a choice!  But since this house only has one full bath, we can't lose a half bath.  So we will do all the rewiring and move the electrical panel.  We will also give this little bathroom a dramatic upgrade with new fixtures and surfaces.  Stay tuned for updates!

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Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Gamechanger - the Teensy, Tiny Addition

I know many of you probably thought it was silly to build a 2 1/2 foot wide addition on the house, but as it's started to come together, it really is a game changer!!!  As a reminder, this is to create a small mud room space at the driveway door,  making a safer entrance to the house (see The Deathtrap for all the details). 

We've had a lot of bad weather recently, so it's moved forward with starts and stops, but it's far enough along to share it now. 

Framing went quickly and it was exciting to see it take shape on the exterior.  That side of the house was a pretty boring, blank slate, so this provides a little bit of architectural interest as well.

The windows and door are on order, but they got it watertight with the original door, which will work while we wait for deliveries.

It's not big - but isn't it cute?

But the exciting part was when they got the wall opened up on the interior.  Now when you walk in the house, there's a spot to take your coat off, stow your wet boots and then go up into the kitchen.  And you don't need to worry that if someone opens the door behind you, that they'll pitch you down the basement stairs.

Look at the difference!! 

It's even better from the kitchen side looking into the mudroom.  It looks huge!  And once we get the new door and windows into the mudroom, it will be light and bright all day (it's on the south side of the house).

It's probably hard to visualize how it will all come together as we finish the rooms - but it's already so dramatically different, I can't wait to get it done!

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