Tuesday, November 27, 2012

update yourself [continued].

This entire kitchen update started for REALLY REAL in mid-February, when I ordered a new refrigerator and range. I'm not sure I can tell you exactly why, but I gave myself separate Appliance and Everything Else budgets for the renovation. Maybe it made the price tags easier to stomach? I don't know, I'm sure February-2012-era-me had some solid logic behind it, but the end result is that I gave myself $2,000 to update the appliances. I didn't think I would even come close. Ha. Hahaha. The twin rules of kitchen renovation, which "friends" have regaled me with repeatedly over the last nine months, are that everything will take twice as long and cost twice as much as expected. Truth: I will want to smack you twice as hard when you share that "wisdom" with me in your patronizing tone. Just sayin'.

Well? I may have spent more than I imagined, but I actually came in only $10 over budget. WORD.

Here's the breakdown.


Frigidaire Gallery 22.6 cubic feet Side-by-Side Counter-Depth Refrigerator
Originally: $1169.10
Purchased for: $701.46 (in scratch & dent section at Lowe's)
Extra cost: $182.06 for tax + protection plan + new water line
Worth it?: Fo shizzle. I mean, it was almost 40% off! It's a great size (counter-depth but still has a spacious interior), totally reliable so far, and has perfected the "stainless look." It matches the rest of our stainless steel appliances, but it has a magical veneer that prevents fingerprints from mucking it up. Hooray for soothing my anal-retentive tendencies.
Pic from here


GE 30-inch Freestanding Electric Range
Originally: $579
Purchased for: $470.36 (on sale + 5% off with Lowe's credit card)
Extra cost: $20 for longer range cord
Worth it?: No doubt. We were looking for electric coils due to my fear of glass tops (I've heard horror stories and didn't want to have to be precious with it), and this model looks expensive without actually being costly. Plus, the knobs are up in the display, which prevents children and errant hip bones from switching the burners on.

Pic from here

Range hood:

Zephyr Tamburo 30-inch Under-Cabinet Range Hood, CFM 290
Originally/Purchased for: $519
Extra cost: $59.68 for ductless conversion kit
Worth it?: Absosmurfly. I was actually hoping to stay under $1,500 for appliances, even though I'd allotted $2,000, and I could have easily purchased a stainless range hood for around $100 and achieved that goal. But this one...it called to me like the curvy siren that it is. I loved the idea of the rounded front breaking up all the lines and squares in my kitchen, and it was totally different from anything I'd seen. It functions beautifully (quiet yet powerful), and it makes a style statement. Love.
Pic from here


Breville Mini Smart Oven
Originally: $149.99
Purchased for: $0. This beauty was a gift from awesome family friends. 
Extra cost: None.
Worth it?: YESH. I mean, it was a gift, so we ain't looking in any horse mouths - but regardless of its cost, we would still be in lurrrve. We especially lurve the "A Bit More" option. You know when your toast is allllmost perfect, but could just use...well, a bit more? Press this magical button, and that bit is all yours. And it's oh-so-pretty...
Pic from here


GE 0.7 cubic foot Countertop Microwave
Originally: $99

Purchased for: $57 (in the clearance section at Home Depot)
Extra cost: My pride. 
Worth it?: Yes. Yes, it was worth my pride. See, this is, once again, the same appliance that John & Sherry from Young House Love purchased for their kitchen, and hot (micro)waves of shame coursed through me when I realized I had accidentally stalked them again, like I did with the fridge. It really was an accident, though! I was looking for any teeny microwave that would fit on the new microwave shelf. I perused Target, two Lowe's stores, and one Home Depot before hitting up a second Home Depot. The appliance dude there directed me to a back corner that held just a few microwaves. He spun a long, torrid tale of how, for some reason, HD hadn't been restocking microwaves, so these last few were left to rot. This baby was the only tiny one. It had been a display model (more like SUPERmodel, amiright?!) and had sticker residue all over the top stainless bar, but Goo Gone took care of that in a cinch. Plus, I got to barter with the HD dude...sort of. The sticker price was $99, and I offered $75, since it had been abandoned anyway. Tilting his head to the side, he considered, and then said, "Why don't I just give it to you for $60?" Um, WHAT OKAY. And then, somehow, the actual price worked out to $57. Woo woo! WORTH IT. Also, Sherry and John, maybe I will stop stalking you when you stop being so stalk-able. (Social worker, blaming the victims. Sigh.)
Pic from here

Undermount sink: (?? allen + roth; it came with our countertop, but I can't find a price online)
Faucet: Kohler Cruette Pulldown Kitchen Faucet in Vibrant Stainless

Pic from here
Pic from here

Originally: Sink - $? (not sure, but similar models sell for around $300), faucet - $275, although Home Depot has it for $224 right now (boo)
Purchased for: Sink came free with countertop; faucet was $265.50
Extra cost: None (installation even ended up being free because they were replacing our broken disposal at the same time)
Worth it?: Uh-huh. Sink is killer. The faucet? Well, I most certainly was not planning to splurge on a faucet. In fact, I...maybe forgot I was going to have to get a faucet. I think I thought I was just going to use the one I already had. And maybe I could have. But then the plumber was over to fix our garbage disposal, and I asked about how much they would charge to hook up the sink once the countertop was installed, and we got a-talkin' about faucets....Next thing I knew, I was knee-deep in Moen and Kohler options, not knowin' which way was up. (I wrote all of that in a cowboy accent. Duh.) I fell for the plumber's lines about durability and beauty, hook, line, and sinker. #PunningAMarathon. Also, this was eight months into our four-month kitchen renovation, and he had the faucet in the truck, so the convenience was priceless. Anyway, the new faucet is super sexy, and we still stayed within the overall budget, so - yes. Worth it.


Refrigerator: $883.52
Range: $490.36
Range hood: $578.68
Toaster: (Gift)
Microwave: $57.00
Sink/Faucet: $265.50

TOTAL: $2,275.06

..."BUT WAIT!" thou doth protest. "I thought you said you came in only $10 over budget. That's $275.06 over budget." AKA, an unexpected faucet over budget? Yeah. WELL. I may be a liberal arts/soft sciences graduate three times over, but my math is right on this one. Here's why: CRAAAAAIGSLIIIIIST! (Once again, said like Liz Lemon wants Oprah to say LIZ LEMONNNN!)

Yep, that's right - so far, I've sold our old refrigerator (for $150), our old range (for $100), and our old range hood (for $15), which put $265 back in my pocket, leaving me at $2,010.06. And, actually, I still have a kitchen sink, a faucet, and a countertop oven to list, so maybe the final number will be even lower. OMG HOW CAN YOU STAND THE SUSPENSE.

Also? How much do I love looking at what the total could have been, without discounts and gifts and luck galore? Could have been: $3,052.83. Ew. I saved almost $1,050, plus the money I got back from Craigslist sales. Color me happy.

Coming soon: a budget breakdown of the whole kitchen renovation. But first? Still need to tell y'all all about the pantry, the counter, the backsplash, the lighting, the frame wall...I shall now hop to it! ...And also get some sleep, because apparently I'm getting a little slaphappy up in here.

Monday, November 26, 2012

floor yourself.

It occurred to me that, due to my extreme kitchen update delinquency, I can't detail any more of the projects we've completed without giving away one of the most dramatic changes: the flooring. I want to show you pictures of so many things - the pantry! The counters! The everything! - but in the interest of maintaining some semblance of a timeline, I'll pick up sorta where I left off. 

Truth: I was leery about the floor installation. So leery that I procrastinated like mad...from early June's base cabinet installation all the way until mid-August, when it was Just Plain Time to get the big projects done. I understand my hesitation, given the streak of 100-plus-degree weather that hit in June/July, as well as the size and impact of this specific project. It's not like cabinet hardware, which can just be exchanged, or picture placement on a wall, which can be adjusted. No, this is big-time, in the same league as countertops and cabinet paint color - i.e., Could Theoretically Be Changed, But OMG That Would Suck/Be Expensive/Kill My Already-Flagging Kitchen Mojo.

Nice, yeah, mm-hmm, but the flooring GOTS TO GO.

To my delight, the flooring install was surprisingly low-key, dummy-proof, and quick. We were (wait for it...) floored. Yeah. Yeah, I said it. Don't pretend you didn't like it. Pun away with me, baby.

Now the deets, AKA The Top 10 Things That Floored Us About the New Flooring:

10. Installation was a snap. We went with vinyl peel-and-stick tile after briefly considering Pergo and cork flooring. I wanted something durable, but I also wanted something that was, like, Level 1 DIY, along with being inexpensive. Vinyl peel-and-stick FTW! And specifically, Style Selections 12"x12" Patina Shale Slate Finish from Lowe's FTW! I found this option all the way back in January, but I wavered for months before making the purchase. So glad I chose it. Best part? Installation actually was as easy as the Internet claimed it would be. Know how many times that's happened in this kitchen reno? Once. WITH THE FLOORING.

source: www.lowes.com

  9. In fact, it was so easy that even though we had 200+ square feet to tile, it was 85% done in two days. Well, three, if you count the half-hour it took on Friday night to prime the laminate floor. We did consider trying to pull up the laminate sheets, especially after the dire warnings from the dude at Lowe's, who insisted that the vinyl tiles would be peeling within HOURS if we applied them to the laminate. However, there were asbestos and logistical concerns related to removing it...so we just primed the laminate and crossed our fingers. Anyway, 85% took a half hour of priming plus two days of measuring, peeling, and sticking - with the help of my mother-in-law on Day One, and with J.J. working his butt off on Day Two to install the new shoe moulding. The other 15% happened the following weekend; I waited for the already-laid tiles to set before pulling out the fridge and range to tile underneath. Then we were done!

85%, muthas!

  8. Yep, 100% done in two weekends! ...Except for one little corner of the bathroom. We needed to remove the toilet, lay the flooring, and replace the toilet. Now, if it seems like we just removed and replaced the toilet a few short months ago, that's because WE DID. Trust me, it made the prospect of doing it again that much less appealing. So, three months after we peeled and stuck everything else, the Corner of Shame remained...until this past holiday weekend. With the threat of guests coming over on Saturday night, we got our butts in gear and finished in about an hour. I'm telling you, if you ever need motivation to finish a house project, invite people over.

Don't worry - the grody brown stains around the
Hole of Doom are just rust stains from Stinky Pinky.

  7. I actually found edging pieces that were both a complimentary color and made of vinyl, which makes the stair edge not quite as deadly as before. I mean, it's still going to rattle your noggin (read: split your forehead) should you fall on it, but maybe less so than the metal edging would have? Let's hope we never have to test that hypothesis.

Heavy metal, livin' on the stair edge.

Another official "before", with the metal edging removed.

After! The edging is from Home Depot.

6. I didn't have to dash to the hardware store 93789 times to get forgotten/unforeseen items. This is nothing short of a miracle, as far as my kitchen-reno-mind is concerned. Other than severely miscalculating how many boxes of flooring we would need (meaning I did have to run back to Lowe's for a few more boxes - who taught me to do math, anyway?), there were no major surprises.

 5. We could have run into major problems with the transition/edging pieces between the front hall and the kitchen and at the top of the basement stairs, but? Nope, no problems at all. We were able to use the existing pieces for both. UNBELIEVABLE. There was a gray rubber transition between the front hall and the kitchen that we were able to lift enough to slide the tiles under, and the metal edging at the top of the basement stairs was doing its job just fine (and is less of a forehead concern than the main step in the family room), so I just removed it, laid the tiles, and replaced it. I think I have an extra piece of the vinyl edging hanging around that I could hammer in, so maybe I'll tackle that someday. You know, for funsies. In the meantime, totally acceptable.

The rubber transition piece blends right in. Swoon.

4. In terms of durability, so far, so good - no peeling, and it doesn't show dirt or grime easily. That was one of my main goals for the flooring, considering that the kitchen is the literal center of the house. Pretty much anyone who enters our house (save for pushy creepy solicitors who elbow their way in I invite in while I write them a check) will pass through the kitchen, and I don't want to have to worry about whether they take their shoes off or not - or whether I've swept the floor in the last few days weeks.

  3. But, bummer city - and this is my only complaint about the floor - it shows even the slightest of scrapes. As in, I don't remember dragging a heavy body with knives poking out of it across the floor, but apparently, the vinyl remembers. The vinyl never forgets. Note to Dexter Morgan: Watch yourself around the peel-and-stick. I've already made peace with the scuffs, and it's not like the veneer is tearing off or anything, and no one has noticed it but me, AND I can't even really get a picture that captures the scrapes...but it's still a bummer.

  2. I found the spot where All the World's Spiders now lay their eggs: under the stair edge between the kitchen and the family room. And then I removed the egg sacs. All of them. ALL THE EGG SACS. Along with the splinters/Wood Chunks of Death that weren't quite covered by the new, slightly shorter edging pieces. The stair is now spider- and wood-chunk-free. (And All the World's Spiders have retreated to our crawl space, where they're covertly scanning the current location of my pillow.)

And, finally, the #1 Thing That Floored Us About the Flooring...

  1. What a huge difference it makes! Initially I was worried that the dark shade would close in the room, make it seem smaller, and/or clash with some other adjacent color, but no. The kitchen instantly felt bigger, more modern, more luxe, and more pulled-together. It also flows better with the adjacent rooms. One (the entry hall) has dark-toned slate tiles, and the other (the family room) has medium-brown hardwood. The brown vinyl is much less jarring than the white-and-green squares, not to mention more aesthetically versatile. Hands down, the flooring was the biggest game-changer since painting the cabinets.

Flooring = WIN. And - oh, what's that, now? You noticed a curvaceous addition above the range in this shot? Ah, yes. Deets on that sexy lady very soon! Aaaand now Gangnam Style is in my head. Aaaand now it's in your head. You're welcome.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

install it yourself.

Ah, our cabinetry.

One of the main goals of our kitchen renovation was to increase storage capacity. Our house was built in the mid-1960s and has the lack of storage to show for it. We have two total hall closets (one on the main level, one upstairs); we have (had!) no pantry; and the kitchen cabinetry wasn't living up to its potential. Also? There weren't enough drawers - only four.

Circa January 2010, six months after we moved in.

Time to enter the 21st century, Kitchen.

I hadn't originally planned to change the layout of the kitchen. At. All. Not a bit. The goals were to add aesthetic updates and functionality without losing my sanity. But one day, my sister-in-law was over and casually mentioned her idea of scooting the range over to the refrigerator's spot, and moving the fridge to the left of that.

At first, I was totally opposed. Even conceptualizing how to pull off such a feat was more than I could manage in my DIY-overloaded brain. But the more I thought about it, the more sense it made...especially after we purchased our new range (seen in the pic above) and realized the cold, hard truth: We couldn't open the dishwasher.


Sad but true. Every time we wanted to open the dishwasher, we had to force the handle of the oven inwards with our hips and squeeeze the dishwasher door past the handle. It was unwieldy, probably not good for the oven handle, annoying, and not a sustainable solution to a daily problem.

I stepped back and considered our kitchen layout. I did want to add drawers, so I had already secured a new-to-me Ikea dresser. It looked less awesome sticking out randomly to the left of the fridge than it would if it were built in with the rest of the cabinetry. Plus, I could add a shelf where the range hood had been, which would both mirror the open shelves on the other side of the kitchen and create a space for the microwave to be up off the counter. AND IT WAS SO.

The only major snag in the plan was the range outlet, which I detailed here. Long story short, to save hundreds of dollars, we bought a longer range cord, which allowed us to move the range but not the actual outlet. With the electrician's blessing, we snaked the range cord through holes that we drilled in the new bank of drawers and trash cabinet and plugged it in. It's still accessible if you remove the bottom drawer, so it's all good.

Removal of the old base cabinet was not that bad spidery, confusing, and traumatizing...but at least it didn't take very long. Finally, we were left with one four last tiny snags-slash-puzzles-slash-sources of a few crying jags: Purchasing, hacking, installing and leveling the new cabinetry. Oh. Yeah.

The bank of drawers is a three-drawer Ikea Malm dresser that I bought half-price from Craigslist (cheap --> cheaper). I removed the top piece, working backwards from the assembly instructions, which I found online, and built up the sides, figuring we could install a slim drawer.

I used scrap wood, nails, and wood glue, and I aimed (ahem. AIMED) for it to be level with the existing cabinetry. As for the drawer? I tried and failed about three times before J.J.'s dad stepped in and took over. Turns out building and installing a drawer isn't as easy as the Interwebz would have me believe...all this junk about leveling and measuring and not buying warped wood, blah blah blah. Hey - in the end, it was done, and it was perfect. I'm not above asking for help. (After crying on the floor that the kitchen would NEVER BE DONE and NO ONE CAN FIX IT and JUST TORCH ITTTTT AHHHH.)

He even made the drawer front with a beveled edge so
it would match the other drawers/doors. Awesomesauce.

Obviously, I also primed and painted it, and the flat-front drawers were perfect for adding the same half-round moulding design that the rest of the cabinet doors were now sporting. 

Also featured in the picture above, just to the left of the Ikea hack? Our new trash cabinet! She started out a humble, lonely 15-inch base cabinet that I snagged from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for $20.00. Woot!

After giving it a thorough cleaning, I removed the protruding pieces in the upper-right corner, removed the door, installed a pull-out trash bin mechanism, primed and painted, added moulding to the door, and added a toe kick. And, um, just for the record, installing the pull-out trash bin thing was among my top five least favorite things that I did in the whole kitchen. Wayyy harder than it had to be. Attaching it to the bottom of the cabinet was easy enough - just screwed it into place...

...but attaching the whole mechanism to the cabinet door just. wouldn't. freakin'. work. I decided to leave it alone for a while, since the more important task at hand was getting the cabinets actually installed - which I need to do before I order the countertops or lay the flooring - which the rest of the kitchen reno was hinging on at the point.

There was one more base cabinet that needed some screwing, too.

This beauty (?) was also scored at Habitat, this time for $10.00. I needed it to fill the gap between the range and the fridge surround. I thought the fridge surround would work butting up against the range, but visually and functionally, it wasn't optimal (no countertop to break up the space, pot handles would bump the fridge surround, and it felt crowded). I went back and forth on what to do with the dead space that was created next to the range before scouring Habitat again, where I discovered this slim, nine-inch base cabinet. Wooo! All (haha) I had to do was clean it up, fix the toe kick, and repurpose a door from one of the upper cabinets we removed. The door was shorter than the opening, but it was flat-front (essential for consistency in the moulding design), and it wasn't difficult to extend the top of the cabinet and make the door look like it'd always been there. (More on fixing up the trash cabinet and the skinny cabinet here.)

Meanwhile, J.J. and his dad built the fridge surround together using Young House Love as their primary guide. I loved the simple way YHL explained their process, and I knew it would work for us since I accidentally bought an identical fridge (I saved mine from the scratch-and-dent section of Lowe's). Basic concept of the fridge surround: Two huge side panels + an upper cabinet (another $10 Habitat find)...although it took a whole weekend for them to assemble, so I'm sure it was slightly more complicated than that. 

Lying face-down on the job...you can see the upper cabinet is already attached.

With the cabinets all ready for action, there was nothing left to do but install, install, install. Somehow, J.J. and I roped my brother into helping us with the installation. Neither of us had done it before, and the very idea of it, being overwhelming and intimidating, had spurred a major procrastination streak. With my brother there, we had no excuse. Plus, he had the stud finder. 

FOUND A STUD. This provided, like, half an hour of
entertainment. And that's my brother's hairy arm...not mine.
It took us the whole day, which was approximately six more hours than I'd predicted. Oh, silly, naive Cathy. But at the end of the day...THEY WERE INSTALLED. Full disclosure: I didn't take an official "after" picture when they were really for real installed. Couldn't tell you why. And I can't show you an official "after" pic now, since that would give away the flooring, countertop, and backsplash awesomeness. Just pretend they're screwed in here, even though I can tell they're not because the holes left by the electrician aren't there, and because the fridge surround is chillin' about four inches away from the skinny cabinet:

Note the crooked trash cabinet door. Eff that door. Eff it.
Praise the DIY gods, the cabinets were all installed. Supposedly, that meant it was countertop and flooring time. Well...spoiler alert. That was in early June. We didn't tackle the floors until two months later, thanks to Crazy Awful Summer From Hell. HOWEVER:


Might be hard to tell, but this is a shot of the dishwasher clearing the handles of the Ikea-hacked-base cabinet. YAY! No more hip action/worrying that we were permanently breaking our new range every time we needed to open the dishwasher! Seriously. It was liberating.

Nothing was quite as transformative as the new flooring, though. OH JUST YOU WAIT...


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