Saturday, August 20, 2011

Utility room done (except floor)

Phase I of the remodel is complete. Now we can live semi-normally for a while.  :)

The utility room cabinets (recycled from the kitchen) are all up, painted, cleaned out, and filled with their normal stuff. Except for the floor, that room is done! We wound up with gobs more storage room in there than we had before, since all the cans of paint are in the garage storage cabinets now.

Our handyman has finished the first part of his work. The kitchen cabinets are due to come in Sept. 6 and be installed probably during the following week. After the new cabinets are installed, Frank will come back and do the backsplash tiling and whatever paint touch-ups are necessary. The floors are due to be installed the week of Sept. 19; we'll need our handyman again during that week to take out the old stove, install the new one after the flooring is down, plus take out the potties when the floor guys rip up the linoleum in the bathrooms and put 'em back in place when the bathroom floors are done. Hopefully, both bathrooms can be finished in one day. We are girls, after all--can't exactly go outside and water the crepe myrtles.

Note the fashionable card table in the kitchen between the old stove and the fridge. That and a smidgen of countertop by the sink is what we have for food prep until the new cabinets arrive. But we're both old Girl Scouts--we'll make it work.  :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Utility room mostly assembled

The last kitchen cabinet we're saving was pulled out today and moved into the utility room. Handy Frank also got the wall cabinets to sober up and hang straight.  :)

He'll be cleaning them up all nice & neat, of course, and the countertop will be cut off at a suitable length, not sticking out like that. But the utility room already looks a lot better with its "new" cabinets.

Frank also got the dining room painted and the new color looks great, but my photos don't show it well. I'll try again after we get all the furniture back in place.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Lots of progress

First, before the kitchen remodel got started, we chopped down the big tree in the front yard. It was a sick, scrofulous sycamore that Sister A. just hated, so off with its head!

Click that pic to see the oddity outlined in red. Why is there a screwdriver stuck in the stump, you ask? Because the tree man tried to "drill" holes in it (to pour stump killer into) by hammering a screwdriver into the wood. Then he couldn't get the screwdriver out. He'll just have to wait for the stump to rot a bit. Guess tree guys don't often need drills, so he didn't have one.

We'll eventually replace that tree with a fruitless mulberry, hopefully around tax refund time.

Moving on to the kitchen remodel--it's actually more of a utility room/kitchen remodel with some spiffing up in the garage. Our handyman and his helper started demo Monday and have accomplished a lot this week.

In the garage, they took down the pegboard which was in an inconvenient place, took down the wood paneling somebody had put up along one wall (to cover dinks in the drywall, apparently), repaired all the dinks in the walls, and painted (& even textured!) the whole place. It's the nicest, cleanest-looking garage I've ever laid eyes on!

Handyman Frank on stilts, patching holes in the garage ceiling.
I would love to try those stilts, but with my balance problem, it would probably end badly....

Derrick unscrews the under-cabinet jar-opener for us--gotta keep that!
The guys took down the cheap wall cabinets in the utility room and transferred half of them to the garage, so we can store away all the yard chemicals, paint, and other garage clutter out of sight. Then Saturday, Frank put up the pegboard beside the cabinets and we happily organized things out there.

The shrouded thing on the right is one of the old WalMart bookcases I've been hauling around from one abode to another for about 30 years. We decided to spraypaint them espresso and started with one as a "test subject". We noticed while spraying that leaving a little of the grain showing through the darker paint made it look pretty good!

The row of boxes is mostly books and dishes we can live without until after this whole circus is over and all the furniture is back where it belongs. And why is all the furniture moving? Why, because we're replacing all the floors in the entire house, and no one has yet perfected the art of levitation. Darn.

The guys scraped up the old linoleum in the utility room and kitchen (it will be replaced with cork) and took out the threshold in the doorway between the rooms. Then they started taking down the old kitchen cabinets and parking the various parts in the utility room.

Thank goodness for long shirttails.
Here's some dorky old wallpaper that was revealed when one cabinet was taken down. I think the rolled-up image is a basket of fruit. Yikes, how early '60s...or even late '50s!

Next, the old kitchen cabinets started going up in the utility room. The ones over the washer and dryer in the pic below have already been painted with our trim color, Cancun Sand.

The bank of cabinets on the opposite wall, however, look a bit drunk, thanks to an unexpected problem in the wall between the utility room and the garage--the thing's off-level by an 1.25"! The angle of the ceiling is marked in yellow and the angle of the cabinets is marked in red. There's quite a difference between the two!

The guys will reposition those cabinets centered over the base cabinets instead, so the Leaning Wall of Our House won't be so obvious.

Work resumes Monday, with Frank fixing the drunk cabinets, and also painting the dining area and kitchen Mountain Haze if there's time.

During all this uproar, our house is all junked up again...

...our kitchen/pantry is reduced to one cleared corner of the den...

...and while the guys are working, the cats hide under the beds all day. Minnie was so freaked out at the beginning of the week, her fur was coming out in little drifts. That ended, thank goodness, or she'd be one bald kitty by now! Sammi has been a little more mellow about things; she still doesn't like the hammering & whatnot, but she's friendly to the two handymen.  :)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Yeah, about that prudent 2-3 year wait...

It all started with the microwave. It stopped working and we jumped through hoops to get it fixed through our home warranty (bad idea--we'll only use that for big stuff from now on). After nearly two months of fooling around with the stupid microwave, we finally had all the parts to finish it off, the repair guys came, they took one look at the electric cord snaking up into the attic from the microwave, and said we'd have to get an electrician to bring that down to a more up-to-code location. The wrongly-installed plug probably explains why that ugly black 16-year-old monster of a microwave was still there when we bought the place--the previous owners didn't want to mess with relocating the outlet for it. So the ball's in our court now. Can't replace the microwave until the electrical problem's fixed, so we'll do that first, and we have to keep in mind that we'll be switching the stove/microwave into the refrigerator's current location & vice versa when we redo the kitchen in 2-3 years, as planned, so gotta position the new outlet like so, but what about plugging in the microwave now, plug's gotta be higher, and so forth & so on.

Foolishly, while we were at Home Depot picking out a microwave and hashing out the problem of the plug, we wandered by the rest of the kitchen displays, picking out what we'd like for our future kitchen remodel: countertop colors, cabinet style, backsplash tile, wall paint, faucet....

And at a certain point, our minds must have snapped. "Let's do the kitchen now," said Sister A.

"Seriously?" I goggled.

"Wouldn't it be great to have the whole house finished?"

By then, we were carrying around samples of our future floors, our future countertops, our future backsplash.... We had homed in on a particular style, and the precise components of it, A. pointed out, might not be available later.

"So we'll pick something else that's close," I said, trying to hold onto fiscal sensibility against the huge wave of YES, LET'S DO IT! that was building up in my head.

Sister A. fanned the samples longingly. "But these are perfect!"

"Well, yes, they are...."

Long story short: we're remodeling our kitchen now.

This project actually involves three rooms, if you count the garage, which will be getting a spiff-up consisting of repairing holes in the drywall, painting, moving old cheap wall cabinets from the utility room to the north wall of the garage (in front of A's car), and also moving a pegboard from the east wall (to the left of my car) to the north wall. Little garage stuff will go in the cabinets, resulting in much less clutter, the ladders will go on sturdy hooks fixed to studs, and there'll be plenty of room for the stuff that has to sit on the floor.

The utility room, of course, is losing its current cabinets to the garage, but it will be gaining most of the current kitchen cabinets--those sturdy old hardwood things from the early '60s. The base cabinets will end up being a little shorter than the current base cabinets, which will give us more for the ironing board and other laundry doin's. The "new" utility room cabinets will be painted Cancun Sand (like the living room and all our trim); the base cabinets will reuse the countertop from the old cheap base cabinets--we'll just have a bit cut off the end that goes against the wall and superglue the loose spot on the other end. It's in good shape, otherwise.

The doorway between the utility room and the kitchen will have its jamb knocked off and will be sanded down and painted to look like the other archways.

Now we come to the kitchen. The current kitchen cabinet configuration doesn't include enough storage (partly due to a foot-deep, space-wasting soffit above a plate rail), and there's a stupid peninsula sticking out right across from the refrigerator, bottlenecking traffic (especially for two ladies with, um, generous hips). We also want to switch the stove and refrigerator locations. The new base cabinets will extend a few inches beyond the current peninsula. There's paneling (painted) all around the dining area, but we're not going to rip all that out--it's too much more work & mess--so we're just going to have our "honey-do" man snap a vertical chalkline and slice through the paneling with a box cutter (a suggestion from our cabinet installer, that); the raw edge will butt up against cabinets, the countertop, and backsplash tile, so it'll be covered.

The new kitchen cabinets will be white KraftMaid in the simple Shaker style we like.

The countertop will be Silestone, color Absolute Green. It's the speckledy one in the pic below.

We picked 4"-square tiles, color Bright Spring Green (see pic above), for our backsplash, to go in a diamond shape with white grout. We'll have bullnose tiles set square at the left and right edges of the backsplash. They don't have 2" bullnose, so it'll have to be 4", but it'll look fine.

We're also taking out the linoleum in the kitchen, dining area, utility room, and both bathrooms, and replacing it with the cork you see in the photo above. The other hardwood pictured there--Woven Bamboo Tigerstrip from HD--will go down in place of the crappy carpet. Yep, all over the house. Yep, this project is actually touching every flippin' room in the place. Here's another pic of the bamboo from HD, showing more stripes.

It looks purty durn cool.  :)

The walls around all these new goodies will be repainted Behr Mountain Haze, much lighter and less in-your-face than our current color.

The pic above seems more gray than the actual color chip, but you get the idea. (BTW, ignore colors Powdered Snow and Deep Jungle--I was just approximating the cabinet and countertop colors in's color picker.) Anyway, we saw the color chip in person and think it will all look really nice together.

Our "honey-do" man is lined up to start Monday, fixing up the garage and moving cabinets around. The new cabinets are ordered and should arrive Sept. 6. The flooring will be ordered Monday, now that the measurements are done and back to HD; that will start going in after the cabinets are in. The new stove (just a plain white gas stove, no bells & whistles, but it will match our fridge) will arrive Aug. 30 and sit in the garage until we have the cabinets & kitchen floor in and the gas line moved to the stove's new location. Then the honey-do man will come back and paint for us, because Sister A's head doesn't like the smell of paint anymore.

We're also going to spraypaint the four bookshelves in the den "espresso" so they'll go with the other furniture better. New bookshelves are too expensive.

And speaking of money--no, we haven't won the lottery. All this will be accomplished with a home improvement loan from our credit union, and we'll be living very frugally until it's all paid off. But the results will be totally worth it.

And when it's all finished...the house will be DONE, and we'll never have to pack another damn box full of books or dishes for the rest of our lives!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Catnip pants?

The weirdest thing happened last night. I had received some new jeans in the mail (well, new to me--after shopping in thrift stores for years, I can't bear to pay full price for clothes anymore, so these jeans, in a style I particularly like, came from an eBay seller) and laid them on top of the hamper in my bathroom to try on later. Come bedtime, Minnie and I troop into my bathroom as usual, me for bathroom business, she for a sink-drink...and, probably, to get away from her arch-enemy, Sammi (it's been over a year and our two cats still don't like each other).

Minnie saw the jeans on the hamper, got curious, and jumped up onto them. Took a sniff, then a longer sniff, then started rolling around on them like they were dipped in catnip! She even got the big crazy eyes like she was stoned! She was rolling & rubbing herself all over those jeans 'til I began to wonder if they were made of hemp!

I went to find Sister A. "You gotta come see this."

I half expected Minnie to have worn out whatever goodie she was smelling on those jeans by the time A. got there, but, nope, she was still rolling around in catly ecstasy. A. and I laughed our heads off watching her performance. After a bit, Sammi came padding around, wondering what all the fuss was about. Minnie caught sight of her, clamped her claws on my newly acquired jeans, and hissed at Sammi in no uncertain terms! Sammi was quite taken aback--she even trotted off to hide behind my bedroom door for a bit, peeking around the edge of the door to stare at Minnie with alarm as my crazy girl resumed rolling around on the jeans.

Eventually, Sammi re-emerged (curiosity & cats, y'know) and A. pulled a leg of the jeans down on the floor to see if Sammi could smell the same goodie Minnie smelled. Sammi sniffed once and jerked her head back, then sniffed again cautiously, sniff sniff sniiiiifffff...and in no time, she was rolling around & rubbing herself all over the jeans, too!

After we got the jeans away from the cats (because it really was looking like they were going to tear 'em in half!), A. and I both sniffed at the jeans thoroughly, but whatever our kitties were smelling was way too subtle for our poor human noses.

These are just plain ol' Lee cotton jeans with a touch of Spandex for the fat lady. They came wrapped tightly in one of those floppy, fibrous USPS Priority Mail bag/envelopes, which was then stuffed into a cardboard Priority Mail box. I smelled what might have been the very faintest memory of cigarette smoke on them, but it might only have been the blue dye. They were sold as used, but didn't look like they'd been worn or washed much.

As for the cats, neither of those girls react to catnip much, if at all. Sammi likes feet and shoes. Minnie has no particular obsessions, other than burrowing under quilts and blankets.

I have no idea what "secret ingredient" the cats smelled on those jeans! But I made sure to put them in the empty washing machine until next wash day. If I'd put them in the rattan hamper, Minnie probably would have destroyed it trying to get to the sniffy goodness!

Does anyone have any idea what made our cats go "crazypants" over a pair of jeans?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Update on our new neighbor

I've been waiting for a "SOLD" sign to turn up on that house I told my friend MM about, but it hasn't yet, even though the sale was official as of Monday (as far as I know), so I'll just trumpet anyway: he bought the house! We are so happy for him--especially since the seller put up the bucks to replace the hail-damaged roof! We eagerly await the sight of roofing guys crawling all over his new house.  :)

Update 2: The roofers are at work!