Category Archives: Before and After

Working Alone

Honestly, this isn’t a true before-and-after post (even though I used it as a tag) because nothing NOTHING is finished.

The living room before I got started on it all by myself.

The living room before I got started on it all by myself.

I have been trying for weeks to get the floor of the living room clear (notice I didn’t say clean) enough for the drywallers to come back for the last time and finish the job. And that job is filling in the rectangle where there once was a window and trying to patch the cracks in the living ceiling.

Look how far I've come: 2 loveseats and an oak chest, woo-hoo!

Look how far I’ve come: 2 loveseats and an oak chest, woo-hoo!

I know they’ll have no problem infilling the window but the ceiling cracks may never be really resolved. Either way, they’re coming to finish FINISH!

All the drywall in the conservatory is leaning against the wall waiting to be carried upstairs.

All the drywall in the conservatory is leaning against the wall waiting to be carried upstairs.

Charlie and I have been working on the drywall in the conservatory, a DIY job, so we could make enough space for the living room furniture which has been under plastic dust sheets for 6 months or more. The dust sheets were just a joke and everything EVERYTHING is full of dust which I’m not photographing because it’s just too yucky.

I lugged both of these loveseats from the living room into the conservatory.

I lugged both of these loveseats from the living room into the conservatory.

Here’s what a did all on my own.

Their slipcovers are in the wash.

Their slipcovers are in the wash.

No kidding.

Do you get things done when you’re forced to work alone?

Sticking It Under the Sink

The prep sink on my side of the kitchen has finally been hooked up.

Running water.  Yippee!

Running water. Yippee!

So before I put the cleaners and other useful items under there I wanted to protect the brand new cabinet floor.

The cabinet under the new sink is pristine.

The cabinet under the new sink is pristine.

I asked Charlie to cut me a piece of corrugated cardboard to fit in front of the pipes.

A piece of cardboard was cut to fit under the sink.

A piece of cardboard was cut to fit under the sink.

Then I used a box of old stick-on tiles that I found in the cottage.

A few of these tiles had been left over from someone else's floor project.

A few of these tiles had been left over from someone else’s floor project.

I cut the tiles to size by scoring them with a mat knife.

I notched the first tile so it would hug the door stop at the front of the cabinet.

I notched the first tile so it would hug the door stop at the front of the cabinet.

Then I just placed them on the cardboard under the sink.

The tiles sort of match the kitchen even though they will rarely be seen.

The tiles sort of match the kitchen even though they will rarely be seen.

They’re old and have a little bow to them so I placed some heavy items on top to weigh them down since the stickum was still plenty sticky.

The tiles needed encouragement to stick to the cardboard.

The tiles needed encouragement to stick to the cardboard.

Now there’s a nice wipeable surface under the sink.

Just add the cleaning solutions and other bottles we store under the sink.

Just add the cleaning solutions and other bottles we store under the sink.

One more chore knocked off the list.

Have you had any sticky situations recently?

 

 

The Final Kitchen Countertop Installation

We have 3 different countertops is the kitchen and we’ve been waiting for this last one made of LightCast by LightBlocks.

We had uncrated a piece of countertop earlier in the week so we laid a piece of thick black plastic under the particle board to keep it safe and dry.

We had uncrated a piece of countertop earlier in the week so we laid a piece of thick black plastic under the particle board to keep it safe and dry.

It’s been in our driveway in a crate for 4 days and now our contractor and his helpers have muscled it onto the cabinets on the window side of the kitchen.

We put chairs on the crate in the drive to stop us from accidentally backing over it.

We put chairs on the crate in the driveway to stop us from accidentally backing over it.

They dry fit the countertop making sure the sink cutout lined up with the sink. (I wasn’t there but when I stopped by in the middle of the day the carpenter said they beat it into place. Yikes!)

The sarcophagus is empty.

The sarcophagus is empty.

Since our contractor (nor anyone else in our region apparently) has never installed this material I emailed the company for some installation details.

I wrote: Hi Jenn,

We received our Lightcast countertops today. Thanks for fabricating and shipping.

Our contractor would light to know any details of installation like what adhesive to use. I presume no screws are necessary. Is there any special procedure? I understand it can be trimmed with a jigsaw if necessary.

Thanks for any info you can furnish.

Jo

The reply from LightBlocks is as follows: Hi Jo,
This can NOT be trimmed with a jig saw.
If you need to trim it should be done with a hand router and a straight edge and only a little should be trimmed at a time. It should also be fully supported underneath while trimming, clamped to mdf board or something similar.
If you find you need to cut these pieces let me know and I can have someone in our office call your installer to walk them through this.

For adhesive, you can use silicone or liquid nails FRP. Make sure not to get any adhesive on the face of the material as it will leave a permanent shiny mark.

Let me know if you need any other info.

Thanks!
Jenn

The small end cabinet was permanently installed before the countertop was put in place.

The small end cabinet was permanently installed before the countertop was put in place.

LightCast is translucent so fastening it down with screws is not an option.  Instead a bead of silicone was carefully put down on the counters.

We're leaving the protective paper on the countertop until the backsplash tile has been grouted.

We’re leaving the protective paper on the countertop until the backsplash tile has been grouted.

Then the Royal Grey honed limestone backsplash which matches the one across the kitchen over the stainless steel counter was installed.

Unfortunately the backsplash cannot be totally finished until the missing upper cabinet is delivered.

Unfortunately the backsplash cannot be totally finished until the missing upper cabinet is delivered.

After the grout sets we can peel back the protective film from the top of the counters.

We're even getting tiled behind the stove.

We’re even getting tiled behind the stove.

Can’t wait!

How eager are you to pull back the figurative “protective film” in your life?

Small Organizational Project

For the first time in decades I actually have all new appliances in the kitchen.  Yes, all at one time.

A new stove and range hood to mention 2 new items.

A new stove and range hood to mention 2 new items.

Normally I would make a folder to hold the instruction manuals, receipts and brochures for each appliance, file it in my “house things” box  which is stored at the top of the attic steps.

I'm pretty sure the box on top in the attic has instruction manuals.  Maybe.  I hope so.

I’m pretty sure the box on top  of the pile stored in the attic has instruction manuals. Maybe. I hope so.

This time I decided to utilize an old metal file box I had inherited from my mother.

I've been saving this old box and now I know why.

I’ve been saving this old box and now I know why.

This green metal box is probably 50 years old and still had the original stickers on it.  Consequently, they were stuck on with a vengeance.

Metal file box and new appliance information (in the foreground) -- a perfect match.

Metal file box and new appliance information (in the foreground) — a perfect match.

Even sandpaper did not remove every gummy bit.  After sanding to remove rust and dirt I wiped the whole box down with mineral spirits which easily cut through the remaining sticky residue.

Even soaking and sanding did not fully remove the old label.

Even soaking and sanding did not fully remove the old label.

After the mineral spirits had dried I sprayed a light coat of metal primer (self-etching, if it matters) which I had on hand from other projects.

Spray metal primer helps paint to adhere to the box. Notice the clasp is taped to prevent paint from getting on the lock.

Spray metal primer helps paint to adhere to the box. Notice the clasp is taped to prevent paint from getting on the lock.

Then I got out my go-to spray paint, Charcoal Metallic, which I have been hoarding.

I accidentally sprayed an undercoat of hammered bronze which actually gave it a more enameled look.

I accidentally sprayed an undercoat of hammered bronze which actually gave it a more enameled look.

I sprayed about 3 light coats over the entire exterior of the box with the clasp  and interior edge taped so they would not be painted.

Before

Before

Like new and it matches the kitchen n'est-ce pas?

After — Like new and it matches the kitchen n’est-ce pas?

A regular size file folder fits in the newly-painted box and will be stored in the pantry for convenient retrieval if I have a question about how any of the new appliances operate. (And, yes I DO have some questions.)

I have a convenient niche in the pantry to store this necessary information.

I have a convenient niche in the pantry to store this necessary information.

Check another project off the list.

Are you having fair weather? Is it encouraging/helping you to check items off your to-do list?

Spiffing Up the Windows

We’ve had lots of windows added to the exterior of the house.

The bump-out kitchen window is 3 windows ganged together.

The bump-out kitchen window is 3 windows ganged together.

Until recently our contractor has suggested we keep the plastic film on the new windows to protect them from dirt and damage.

The bump out window overlooks the garden.

The bump out window overlooks the garden.

Finally we’re able to remove the film and put the screens and grids in that give them the traditional look of the old windows in the house.

We have wood grilles for all the new windows.

We have wood grilles for all the new windows.

The kitchen is ready for trim paint and curtains or shades.

The casement windows also have screens that need to be installed.

The casement windows also have screens that need to be installed.

We are realizing each little detail has its list of chores.

Window treatments: minimalism or opulence?

Granite Island

We’ve been working on the kitchen island since June, 2013.  First we determined we wanted something distinctive; something no one else has.

The sideboard we're using for the kitchen island used to sit against a dining room wall that no longer exists.

The sideboard we’re using for the kitchen island used to sit against a dining room wall that no longer exists.

The we decided to take apart my mother’s breakfront and just use the bottom for the base of the island.

We transformed this sideboard into a kitchen island.

We transformed this sideboard into a kitchen island.

That wasn’t nearly wide enough so we bought ourselves a power miter saw and Kreg jig and put together a some shelves that could back up to the breakfront and become a bona fide island.

I designed and built the kitchen island shelves with Charlie's help.

I designed and built the kitchen island shelves with Charlie’s help.

Then I went shopping for some granite and got a sweet deal on some River White.

We chose a section of the River White granite for the island top.

We chose a section of the River White granite for the island top.

The island was electrified with an outlet that will be accessible on the top shelf of the back of the island.

The electric line is hidden in the breakfront side of the island.

The electric line is hidden in the breakfront side of the island.

The outlet will be convenient but hidden under the granite top.

The outlet will be convenient but hidden under the granite top.

Finally the floors are finished and the base could be permanently set in place.

The back of the island was removed to finish the floors and then re attached.

The back of the island was removed to finish the floors and then re attached.

Our contractor leveled everything up and put a bead of adhesive on the base.

The island is ready for the piece de resistance: granite.

The island is ready for the piece de resistance: granite.

Then with Charlie’s help they carefully set the granite onto the island.

From the back

From the back

I love it.

From the front

From the front

From above

From above

I can truly say countertops make the kitchen: 2 down, one to go.

Do you prefer light or dark countertops?

Floored

All week I’ve been giving the low down (get it? low down — floor) on finishing our new floor.

The old floor gap between the living room and dining room.

The old floor gap between the living room and dining room.

The floor gap has been repaired.

The floor gap has been repaired.

Bottom line (get it? bottom line — floor), it’s gorgeous.

Old dining room floor on the bottom (vertical), new kitchen floor on the top (horizontal). No stain--just poly.

Old dining room floor on the bottom (vertical), new kitchen floor on the top (horizontal). No stain–just poly.

Two men sanded all the new flooring.

The drum sander knocked out the power twice.

The drum sander knocked out the power twice.

Where new floor met old (and in some other spots, too) they hand-scraped the new floor before putting the finish on it.

Hand-scraping blends the new floor boards into the old without removing the finish from the old floor.

Hand-scraping blends the new floor boards into the old without removing the finish from the old floor.

With no stain and a 3-coat polyurethane finish it matches the old floor very well and I’m sure it will mellow with time.

The first coat of polyurethane.

The first coat of polyurethane.

The second coat of polyurethane needs to dry overnight.

The second coat of polyurethane needs to dry overnight.

After yesterday’s rant, now that the floor is finished, we are excited to move in the kitchen appliances.

Next:  permanently put the island in place with its granite top.

Next: permanently put the island in place with its granite top.

Possibly my mellow mood is due to the fact that for 2 nights we’ve been sleeping in a house filled with noxious fumes.  It’s so cold (in the teens) we really can’t afford to open a few windows.  Bye-bye brain cells.

Have you lost some brain cells this year?  To what do you attribute that?

The Wrap-up List

In order to “finish” (and I use that term loosely) the first wave of renovation improvements to The Glade the contractor still has some unfinished jobs.

  1. Finish installing the kitchen cabinets (We are waiting for replacements of wrong size cabinets.)

    We're waiting for cabinets to finish the upper and lower runs before we install the refrigerator next to the pantry (

    We’re waiting for cabinets to finish the upper and lower runs before we install the refrigerator next to the pantry.

  2. Install kitchen sinks

    The sinks have been unboxed and are ready to be installed.

    The sinks have been unboxed and are ready to be installed.

  3. Make substrate for stainless steel countertop (extra charge)
  4. Install and hook up all appliances

    Our stove, dishwasher and undercounter refrigerator won't be installed until the floor is finished.

    Our stove, dishwasher and undercounter refrigerator won’t be installed until the floor is finished.

  5. Install stainless steel countertop

    Our stainless steel countertop is being made at a local sheet metal fabricator.

    Our stainless steel countertop is being made at a local sheet metal fabricator.

  6. Install island countertop

    We have a piece of  granite to top the island.

    We have a piece of granite to top the island.

  7. Sand and finish floor
  8. Install counter in pantry

    The countertop will go on the white strip above the bottom shelf.

    The countertop will go on the white strip above the bottom shelf.

  9. Porch deck installer repair and clean stone
  10. Finish baseboard

    Our new baseboard is 1 by 4 topped with ogee molding.

    Our new baseboard is 1 by 4 topped with ogee molding.

  11. Finish back steps and landing
  12. Install remaining electric fixtures

    My pantry pendant is being moved to the conservatory due to code.

    My pantry pendant is being moved to the conservatory due to code.

Charlie and I are responsible to:

  • insulate the new spaces (almost finished)

    A few spots still need insulation before the job can be inspected.

    A few spots still need insulation before the job can be inspected.

  • drywall the new spaces
  • paint the exterior shingles and trim

    We have to paint the shingles to tie the old part of the house together with the new.

    We have to paint the shingles to tie the old part of the house together with the new.

  • landscape the yard

I think all the demolition is finished!!!!!

Charlie did all the demolition including our old kitchen.

Charlie did all the demolition including our old kitchen.

After all these things are finished and we’ve saved up some more money we’ll start again getting the unfinished areas completed:

  • conservatory floor and trim
  • conservatory bathroom
  • master closet

    The master closet has been insulated but not yet drywalled.

    The master closet has been insulated but not yet drywalled and needs flooring.

  • master bathroom

Right now I’m not really up for making any more decisions or spending any more serious money.  I need a breather.

How long can you keep up intense work on a project?

A New Threshold

Obviously we had new hardwood flooring installed in the new areas of the house but we also wanted seamless transitions between the old and new. About 15 years ago we had a small area in the front of the house repaired with new flooring which at the time didn’t connect to any other floor.

A small portion of flooring in the powder room and front hall had been previously replaced.

A small portion of flooring in the powder room and front hall had been previously replaced.

When our floor was installed they removed the old new floor from the front hall but not from the powder room. The new hall flooring exactly matches up with the powder room floor.

The transition between the powder room and the front hall will disappear when the new floor is finished.

The transition between the powder room and the front hall will disappear when the new floor is finished because there is no level disparity.

However the floor in the front hall was about 3/4 inch higher than the mudroom floor.

The newish floor in the front hall had been installed on top of old flooring and therefore was at a little higher than the other floors in the house.

The newish floor in the front hall had been installed on top of old flooring and therefore was at a little higher than the other floors in the house.

The old subfloor was thick diagonal boards which also created some flooring issues.

The old subfloor was thick diagonal boards which also created some flooring issues.

Originally the flooring guys put in a standard threshold to accommodate the difference in levels.

The standard threshold was almost invisible.

The standard threshold was almost invisible.

A standard threshold is about 3 inches wide.

The same photo as above with the threshold "enhanced".

The same photo as above with the threshold “enhanced”.

I thought the transition would be better with a threshold that was as wide as the doorway (the thickness of the wall). My contractor agreed it would look better and be a better transition but the floor man told him there wasn’t such a thing as a wider threshold with a reducer for a small change in height from one floor to another. Hmmm.

The specially milled, wider threshold with a reducer element makes an easier and better-looking transition.

The specially milled, wider threshold with a reducer element makes an easier and better-looking transition.

Not a man to be deterred by “it can’t be done” he called the local lumber yard and they said they could mill a custom threshold.

From the front hall entering the mudroom the transition is less than an eighth inch and the incline is very gradual which would easily accommodate a wheelchair.

From the front hall entering the mudroom the transition is less than an eighth inch and the incline is very gradual which would easily accommodate a wheelchair.

Seriously this man could work in theatre (where nothing is impossible).

How do you handle the impossible?

Nothing Hinges on This Decision

When our contractor ordered the doors he asked me what color I would like the hinges.

The closet doors were delivered with bright brass hinges.

The closet doors were delivered with bright brass hinges.

I said some silver color like brushed nickel or stainless steel.

The bright brass hinges on the closet are contrasted with the soft silver door hinges.  I like the latter.

The bright brass hinges on the closet are contrasted with the soft silver door hinges. I like the latter.

When the doors were delivered the hinges were BRIGHT BRASS.

The silvertone hinges are much nicer.

The silvertone hinges are much nicer.

I hardly noticed the hinges because I loved the doors so much but my lovely contractor changed the hinges anyway.

Do small changes delight you?