Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Into the 3rd week

The mudroom has been roughed in. I'm very excited that we will have a space where everybody can drop shoes, jackets, whatever, and not have it lying all over the sofas and chairs. There will be a rod for hanging, hooks, and a bunch of cubbies. And a little stool to sit on while putting on and taking off shoes. And maybe it can also be a time out room for misbehaving children....

The under layer for the tile has been laid by the back door and into the mudroom. This will have 12x12 tiles and the rest of the room will have an oak wood floor.

The electrician is here today putting in the recessed lights and receptacles and switch locations. Had to think a bit about where to put the switches and what they should control. We used to have a 3-way switch that turned on the light over the kitchen table. Except it wasn't installed correctly and you could only turn the lights on from the switch used to turn them off. Both switches would turn the light off, so we were constantly going from one end of the room to the other trying to get the light turned on.

There is another hurricane brewing in the eastern Atlantic. Right now it's still a tropical storm, but it's forecast to become a hurricane later today, named Katia. Let's hope she just spends all her time out in the ocean.

A Brief Interruption

Unless you're living in a closet, you heard about Hurricane Irene. Around here, we're enough inland that it was "only" a tropical storm. The wind howled all night long and it poured rain. The power flickered on and off at least three times and every time it did the doorbell rang. At 5:30AM the power finally went off for good. Our usual Sunday pattern is to meet up with family at the local Panera. But it was closed, as was the nearby Starbucks (this is serious). Drove to another Panera location, and had to divert around a tree fallen across the road. It too was closed. Finally found our Sunday treat at a bagel place. Back home we cleaned up all the fallen leaves and twigs in the yard and my husband got out his chain saw (guy toys) and cut up the large branch that fell out of a tree. Luckily, we have a dumpster right in our driveway ready and waiting for debris (tree-bris?). 

So this is what the place looked like on Saturday. The chairs are from the deck since we didn't want them blowing around. The studs are nearly all up and the wall next to the back door is roughed in.

The contractor drew the outlines of the cabinets on the floor so we can see where things will be placed.

Granddaughter Audrey took this opportunity to add her artwork to the soon-to-be-covered-up studs.

Zoe contributed her footprints.

Our power was restored on Tuesday afternoon at 5pm. The generator made the nearly 3 days bearable. The contractor was able to continue work during the day and once he left we ran an extension cord across the street so a neighbor could power her refrigerator. The schools were supposed to open on Monday but they didn't, and they were closed yesterday also. Today most of the county schools are open, but there are still 21 without power. What a way to start the school year - already using up the snow days.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


The subfloor is down and now the studs are going in. And in between those studs will be insulation - hooray! There has never been any insulation in the kitchen and in the winter the temperature went down to 62 degrees. Inside the cabinets it was even colder, by 10 degrees. I had to heat up the dinner plates before putting any food on them or the food would be instantly cold. But not any more.

I'm writing a little note on the wall before it gets covered up. I wonder if anybody will ever see it. Sort of my own little stikman.

It took me a few seconds to figure out the what this picture is of. It's looking up at the joists holding up the second floor. The cinder block is the outside wall, and now there is expanding foam in the cracks. Another route for cold air blocked.

We had vintage (i.e. old and ugly) hot air registers. Gone now, and the hot air vent will be placed in the wood floor.

We're watching the weather forecasts and it looks like Hurricane Irene is going to give us some big winds and heavy rains. Going grocery shopping tonight because by tomorrow the stores will be jammed and the shelves empty. At least I already have toilet paper. Gee, an earthquake and a hurricane all in one week. Is somebody sending a message?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Week 2

Just about everything that is to go out has gone out. We're down to the bare walls, subfloor, and joists. Now it's time for things to start coming back in.

The dumpster that holds the remains of the kitchen.

Here we have one of the subfloor boards that is cracked. Steve, our contractor, doesn't just cover this up. He takes it out and replaces it with a new piece.

Yesterday and today the plywood base is going down, briefly interrupted by the 5.9 earthquake that had its epicenter in Virginia. I thought it was the flatbed truck coming to retrieve the dumpster, but the shaking went on far too long for that. No damage here, thank heavens. I think we're going to have far more problems this weekend when Hurricane Irene tracks up the eastern seaboard. A prolonged power outage would be a very bad thing, not to mention a flooded basement.

Some of the original wiring in this house would not meet today's codes, I think. We already figured out that the microwave, toaster oven, and hot plate cannot be run at the same time. Add to that list the power thingie that Steve uses to drive in the nails. It seems that one whole section of the house is on the same circuit.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

End of the first week

Not much happened on Friday. More floor tear out. The kitchen floor is gone, down to the subfloor. Underneath the wood floor was tile and most of that is gone now.

The new plywood flooring layer is ready and waiting to be put down. After the demo and hauling comes the HVAC/electrical/plumbing rough-ins. I don't know how long that will take.

When we were going through the plans for this remodel and the contractor said they would be taking out everything to the studs (I mean, if there were studs), it just didn't really sink in that this is what it would look like. It looks a lot like a garage or an unfinished basement. The transformation is going to be spectacular!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Day 4

More stuff gone. The closet that was to the left of the door is gone. That will be replaced with a mud room that will be larger and extend to the window. It will be a place to drop all the junk that has always been dropped on chairs or wherever. And maybe we can even train everybody to remove their shoes when they come in the door.

These are some of the holes in the cinder block wall that let in the cold air that made the kitchen so freezing cold in the winter. They will be plugged up, hooray, and it will be oh so much warmer in there.

This is looking at the corner of the kitchen. They are going to frame out these walls and put insulation in them. This changes the dimensions of the kitchen which affects the cabinets. The cabinet person came out and remeasured all the spaces. One cabinet will have to be remade, and the sink base trimmed by 2 inches. Cabinets will butt up closer to the windows than originally planned, but it will all work out quite well.

By the end of Thursday, most of the wood floor had been ripped up and tossed into the dumpster. All that's left for Friday is the linoleum floor in the kitchen and the tiles and felt liner under where the wood floor was. They are taking it all out down to the subfloor and then laying a new plywood base. This will make it all even and easier to lay the new wood floor on top.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


This is the set of switches that is next to the back door. The first switch on the left turns on the light right outside the door. The second switch turns on another outside light. The two switches on the right turn on lights in the family room and kitchen. We could never figure out what the middle switch controlled. Now I know why. It doesn't connect to anything. Might have once, but never since we moved in.

All the appliances and cabinets have been hauled away to the re-use center. I hope somebody gets good use from them, they are still in good condition.

It was not in the original plan to tear down the entire front wall, but when we discovered the joists resting on the brick wall, we decided to take all the wall board out and replace it with new studs, insulation, and wall board and it will all look better. And be warmer. Notice the change in color on the bricks. The previous owners had painted the dining room brick wall white. We tried to paint it to look more like brick, but that didn't work well, so in the first kitchen remodel we covered it with wallboard. Never thought I would see that wall again.

Another discovery - the cold air returns from the rooms on the second floor don't go anywhere. They should go into ducts that connect back to the furnace so there is an airflow. But they just empty into the space between the joists. Explains a lot about why the some of the rooms are never the right temperature. This house was built in 1957 and I guess there weren't very many codes that had to be followed. Or the builder just ignored them.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Problems already

The dividing wall is gone. It really opens up the space.

See that lovely cinder block wall? On the other side of that is the outside brick wall. No insulation. No wonder the kitchen got so cold in the winter. Those were supposed to be 2x4s but they are only laths flat against the wall. Makes it much more of a problem to add insulation without changing the dimensions of the room. And that brick wall on the right is supposed to come down so that we could put insulation there also. Except it seems that the joists holding up the second floor are resting on those bricks. Big problem.

The refrigerator is now up in the living, so our mini kitchen is complete. Made spaghetti last night. It was a challenge because the we can only use one heating device at a time. Brown the meat, then cook the mushrooms, mix in the sauce, then heat it up. Boil the water, cook the pasta. Broil the garlic/cheese bread. Reheat the spaghetti sauce. Might not be having spaghetti any more. And the new refrigerator is an inch wider than the doorway.


Monday, August 15, 2011

The demo begins

What a mess! Glad I don't have to clean it up.

The temporary kitchen - the outdoor washing station.

The indoor cooking station.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Remodel - empty rooms and a plan

It is truly amazing how much stuff is in a kitchen. I started packing stuff into boxes a month ago. When the POD was delivered last Monday, we loaded the furniture and the already packed boxes into it. Then I proceeded to continue packing up kitchen stuff and transferring what we will be needing during the interim up to the temporary kitchen. Which is in the living room. It seemed as if I was hardly making a dent. But now everything that needs to be put into storage is in the POD and it will be taken away this afternoon.

Here is the empty dining room. It echoes. Since the refrigerator is still in the kitchen and most of the utensils and other stuff is in the living room, there is a lot of back and forth necessary in order to eat something. When the demo crew arrives on Monday at 6:30 AM (aack), they will move the refrigerator up to the living room. We've hooked a wash tub up outside the living room door, for washing dishes, but this is going to be a real pain. At least it's not winter.

I used an architectural drawing program to rough out what the new space will look like. The counter tops will be white, not black. I hope these next two months go by quickly and without any setbacks.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Phase I: Before

Next week begins the remodel of my kitchen/dining room/family room. We've lived in this house for more than 30 years and have redone the kitchen twice. This will be a much bigger project because the entire first level is going to be gutted. The wall between the kitchen and the dining room will be replaced by an island and there will be a mud room off to the right of the back door. Everything is going - floors, some walls, ceiling, cabinets, appliances, fixtures. I took some pictures to document the original layout, which has already changed. Now there are boxes everywhere and the corner cabinet is gone, purchased by someone after I posted it on Craigslist.

Family room view from the kitchen area. The new mud room will go to the right of the window and that existing closet is going.

View of the family room that you get as you walk in the back door. Stairs go up to the living room level.
View of the dining room from the kitchen. That corner cabinet is gone.

Another view of the kitchen.

The dining room. Doorway on the left goes to the basement aka my studio. To the right of the stairway is the powder room.

View of the kitchen from the dining room.

Dining room looking towards the family room.

The plan is to move the refrigerator up to the living room and make that our temporary kitchen. Bought a basement type sink and it's outside, ready to be hooked up to the bathroom sink via a hose coming through the window. Not sure how well this is going to work, but there has to be someplace to wash dishes. We plan to use plastic as much as possible, not very green, I know. Maybe the fact that all the old appliances, cabinets, and flooring will be donated to a recycling center will help make up for that.