Monthly Archives: July 2016

Heating Things Up

This weekend we got a big job done in the kitchen: installing the microwave! I love the new location mounted over the oven, and even without the rest of the kitchen put back together, it already feels roomier without our old clunky white one taking up a whole counter.

Before I write about the microwave, I realized I never posted some pictures of our trip to Seagrove, NC last weekend so I’ll put a few of those in. The bed and breakfast we stayed at was so quaint and had wonderful hostesses, who insisted on taking our picture on the front porch:

We explored the property as well, which had some old log cabins out back:

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And we bought lots of beautiful pottery, in addition to doing some relaxing:

On to this weekend, we had a full day planned on Saturday with a canoe trip with some friends down the Haw River about 30 minutes from our house.

It poured the night before so the water was actually pretty high, and the rapids were a bit terrifying (I may have shrieked several times as we almost flipped our canoe!). Hopefully cooperation in a tandem canoe is not an indication for a successful marriage since we argued our way down every single rapid. We stopped for lunch, and got to jump in the water and float down a small rapid – lots of fun despite the churned up water!

Saturday afternoon we had a barbecue to go to for Nik’s fellowship program, so when Sunday came around we got right to business on the kitchen. I spent the morning finally painting our stair column which looks pretty nice. It needs a second coat, then we’ll be ready to think about putting the banister in. Then I intermittently helped Nik with the microwave install, and also got the new cabinet sanded and primed.

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I don’t know about you other ladies, but I think a man with a power tool in hand, patiently reading an installation guide while getting ready to install your appliance free of charge is about as handsome as they get =P

We had some mild issues with the electrical – if you recall, our previous stove vent hood was hardwired in, so Nik bought an outlet box and got some advice from an electrical-savvy friend who helped us determine we had the right wire gauge to create a safe outlet box that we could plug the microwave into. The issue was the microwave plug was so bulky, it wouldn’t fit to plug in behind the microwave if the outlet was flush with the wall like they usually are. Luckily, there was already a pretty big chunk of drywall missing behind the microwave, so we just ended up recessing the outlet box and plug totally into the wall space. A little unconventional, but it should be safe.

At the end of the day, this is what we had:

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We’re ambitiously planning to either start on the floors this coming weekend, or do the back splash. Nik is pretty busy with some other things on Sunday, so we’ll see what we get done.

Counters at Last

Our kitchen feels like it’s coming together at last this week, with the installation of our counters, sink, and new faucet. But then we remember there’s still lots to do: finish the cabinet painting and sealing, figuring out the open shelves we want to install, mounting the microwave, backsplash, wood floors and trim, painting and adding cabinet top molding. It’s still exciting to see colors coming together though.

The extra cabinet we wanted to install on the far wall actually came in last week, so we were able to get that base cabinet installed in time for the granite guys to put the top on. We obviously still haven’t built the island, so that piece of granite is sitting in the garage. Granite is simply laid on top of a cabinet with a thin bead of clear silicone caulk, so we can do that ourselves when we’re ready, and they said the island slab only weighs about 80 lbs. Here’s the rest of the pieces installed:

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I like the green with the counters overall, and I think once the doors are on with new hardware will complete the look. It’s a little…country looking, but I think using hardware with sharper angular lines will help shift that towards a more modern look. This is what helped direct us when we picked a sink faucet, so this is the one we decided on. It got installed by the plumber on Wednesday.

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I like the angular look, but I have one major complaint about this sink that Nik was supposed to address with the plumber since he was the one at home when the guy came. The on/off knob you can see points straight up when it’s off, and it pulls out to the right to turn on the flow, and then you can adjust it towards or straight up to vertical to change the temperature. But if you just pull it out from the vertical off position, it’s HOT water. So to get cold, you have to first pull it towards you, then out. This seems really backwards right? I checked Delta faucets, and they do their temperature control the way I think it should be…but this faucet is a Moen and apparently they do it opposite. I asked Nik to have the plumber switch the hoses so up would be cold…but we all know how that goes when we put men in charge of details such as this! So now I’ve tasked Nik with switching the hoses at some point.

Nik also had him switch the disposal to the left side to be closer to the dishwasher. We thought we’d be able to salvage our old functional one, but apparently when we removed it from the old sink when we were doing the demo ourselves, we removed it incorrectly (no thanks to the youtube video we watched which told us “exactly” how to remove it!) and whatever we did to the edge of it, it couldn’t be reused. That’s ok though – the new one was only $80 and didn’t have years worth of nasty grime and rust all over it.

We have one more decision to make about decor in the kitchen – the backsplash. I’ve been thinking something along the lines of white subway tile would be simple and cheap, and white will further brighten and hopefully open the space, which I’m still wary of because of the dark cabinets and soon-to-be dark wood floor. We also have quite a bit of backsplash to lay (probably 35-40 square feet when you add it all up), since we opted to have counters with no granite backsplash, so anything too fancy would get pricey.  Last night we wandered to Lowe’s and took a look at their options. After our trip, clean white subway tile is definitely the direction we’re going – you can see the counters are pretty busy, so we think any accent tiles, even just a row, will just exaggerate that. I liked the white glass subway tile, but at almost $3 a tile that isn’t going to happen!

We picked out 3 styles of subway tile – a more decorative one on the left (about 3″x6″ and 49 cents a tile), which I love, but it has more going on and could look too busy. Then a larger subway tile (4″x8″, 69 cents a tile) and standard subway tile (approximately 3″x6″, and 22 cents each).

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I kind of like how clean the big tiles look…but the small ones are nice too. We’ll probably do a pretty thin grout line with some contrast (maybe a light gray), since we want to see some definition of the tiles but not make them look too busy with high-contrast dark grout. I think with white grout you lose the tiles:

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Dark grout is a little dizzying to me, unless the rest of the kitchen is very plain. But even this kitchen with very plain counters, I think the grout is a bit much to take in:

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Light gray grout gives soft definition but isn’t too bold/busy, and you can see it even looks nice with a more patterned counter top like ours (second picture). The one on the left also has slightly larger/longer tiles…which I kind of like better. The store did carry one other subway tile size that was more that shape (larger/longer) so that’s an option too.

And we’ll probably do a standard subway tile pattern (staggered, like the ones above). The guy at the store suggested herringbone, which I love, but with Nik’s constant battle with perfection I think this is probably a bad idea. Plus herringbone is a pretty busy pattern, so it might compete with the counters. This kitchen did a beautiful herringbone pattern, but they have very simple white counters unlike ours, so it works:

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In conclusion…we haven’t made any decisions, but we’re getting there! This weekend we should be able to get the microwave mounted and get some more doors painted, and maybe even start on ripping up the floors.

 

Reclaimed Wood Bench

We finally finished the front porch bench we’ve been working on – I’ll call it our reclaimed wood bench. Things made out of “reclaimed wood” are all the rage now, and usually come with some story about the hundred year old barn the wood came from and how this rationalizes the $3000 price tag. Well, our bench is indeed made from reclaimed wood but it came from the jungle gym that used to dominate our back yard, and it cost $0. Well, I suppose $15 since we did have to buy special exterior spar urethane to seal it since it will stay outside on our front porch. But we only used a tiny amount from that can, so I’m ok saying $0.

Here’s how the bench started:

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And here’s our final product:

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To build this bench, Nik started off by cutting the top slats. Then we troubleshooted different ways to build the braces between the slats, and he finally decided to use a solid piece of wood with cuts in it to make “teeth”. The circular saw was set to a particular height and he used it to make these cuts.

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Next, the pieces were put together to make sure they fit in the teeth:

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And a base was built to hold up the seat. Nik made a practice trapezoid first to make sure all the angles worked, since we didn’t want 90 degree legs to keep it feeling mid-century.

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Next came staining and sealing with the spar urethane. We decided to do a shade darker on the legs (dark walnut) and special walnut on the seat to add some contrast.

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Then we started a partial assembly to make the legs easier to seal. We used mostly wood screws to attach everything:

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And finally, the finished product:

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We decided this was a good wedding present for each other, to give us a place to sit together on our porch for years to come.

The kitchen cabinets are coming along as well, and to clear out our living room a little we hung the upper cabinets that were done being painted (they still need sealer but I wanted to do this once they were hung in case any paint touch ups were needed first). The hanging height was a bit of an ordeal – apparently they were hung at a pretty normal 18″ previously, but we always felt like they were a little low, plus we wanted to have adequate room over our stove for the microwave. We tried 19.5″ and that felt way too high, so we tried 19″ and that still felt a little high but doable, so that’s where they sit now. The doors are still in the process of being painted, and then we’ll buy some top molding to make them look a little nicer, which will also have to be painted.

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We’re taking an overnight trip this weekend to a bed and breakfast in Seagrove (the pottery capital of NC) to get away for a bit and tour some pottery studios. So other than that, our only task this weekend is to remove the old counters/plumbing and buy a faucet since the new counters are coming on Tuesday and the sink on Wednesday. Hopefully by my next post the kitchen transformation will be looking a little more complete!