Sunday, September 25, 2011

Kitchen cabinets and all floors DONE

The kitchen cabinets and all the floors in the house were actually finished last Saturday--a week ago--but we've been so completely dead since then, catching up on our sleep, I haven't gotten around to putting up pix until now. The week before last was grueling. The flooring guys worked hard and long to make up time lost avoiding contact with the scary asbestos-containing linoleum (or the black "cut-back" mastic under it, or both--I forget the final verdict or whether there ever was one). Wednesday, Thursday, Friday were all late nights for them, but Saturday was the worst--they didn't finish until nearly 1 am. But then, thankfully, they were completely finished.

I wound up taking part of Thursday and all day Friday off from work to help Sister A. with moving stuff around and generally keeping her sane while the guys worked and we waited to jump in and do our next bit. As the guys finished rooms, we put them back together. Keep in mind, we replaced every single floor in the entire house, so ALL the furniture had to be removed from every room at some point. And after the floor was finished in each room, we had to do a lightning vac-&-Swiffer of all the sawdust, cement dust, and general messy-guy dust before the furniture could be moved back in. Some things we could move ourselves; others had to wait for the guys. But it was sure nice seeing the rooms come together again.

Here's Sister A's reassembled bedroom with its new floor, the tiger-stripe bamboo:

The sewing room (a work in progress, obviously):

The hallway, with Sammi, who expresses her approval of the new floors by flopping down on them anywhere and everywhere:

My bedroom, with Minnie, who likes the new floors just as much as her cousin (but, really, what can beat a nap in your very own cat tree?):

By the way, the cats look quite calm and collected in those photos because they were taken this morning. During the worst of the remodel, they were totally freaked out. Sammi managed to stay inside the house (close to Mama!) even with all the hammering and strangers, but Minnie got right the hell away from this place and stayed away until the whine of saws and all that other racket was over. Saturday night, when the guys worked so horribly late, I managed to grab her around midnight and shut her in my room with me until the guys were gone (my room was done at that point). I did lots of petting and cooing to calm her down, but it took quite a while. She wasn't even next door to normal until after I got out of the shower (my bathroom's an en suite, so I didn't have to leave her alone) and the guys had finally collected their tools and dragged their weary bods home. It was a few days before she really believed the noise and workers and displaced furniture everywhere were all over.

Here's the finished living room this morning, complete with relaxing co-home-owner:

The finished kitchen and utility room, with cork floor:

And my den, with bamboo floors and my old WalMart fake-light-oak bookshelves after an espresso paint job (pretty nice results for 14 bucks!):

We are thrilled with how the floors turned out--it really was worth the late nights and sleep deprivation! But we are equally thrilled to be getting the house back to normal. Yesterday, we finally moved the last of our shelves, book-boxes, and bags of Sister A's quilting fabrics out of the garage and into the house, so we were able to put the cars in their home again; A. got the living room books put in their shelves; and I started the same with the den books.

We are wrecked, but recovering, and very happy with the results.

The only jobs remaining are the installation of the new countertops when they arrive, the backsplash tiling after that, and any last little touch-ups for our honey-do man. Then the house will be done.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Progress, a snag, more progress, another snag

The kitchen cabinets are done, fabulous, and even have some of our wayward supplies in 'em! Here are the south and north banks, respectively:

Notice the fashionable countertops--three sheets of cardboard strapped together with packing tape. They're surprisingly sturdy! The countertop template guy is coming next Tuesday to measure for the real thing, but these stand-ins will do just fine until the real countertops arrive.

Pardon the lousy pix--I didn't realize how dusty the camera lens was, plus I had to shoot from the doorways today because the flooring guys are working in the dining area. YAY! That red stuff on the floor is underlayment.

You may notice that there's a gap at the top of the cabinets; that's because Sister A. is a shrimp vertically challenged and needs the wall cabinets to start no higher than 15" over the base cabinets; otherwise, she wouldn't be able to reach more than one shelf without a stepstool. So the cabinets didn't go up as high as expected. We're going to have Handy Frank add a sort of border above the crown molding that'll go straight up to the ceiling, painted the same color as the cabinets. Frank & A. held a "cabinet meeting" while the installer finished his last little bits.

That was all Tuesday. I took off work Tuesday to help move stuff from room to room for the flooring guys, who were scheduled to start that day. We moved our first little bits into the den and the guys got to work, but then they ran into a roadblock--they found more of the old linoleum and black mastic under the carpet in A's bedroom and the sewing room. The company says it's got asbestos in it, so all work had to stop until the flippin' lino was out. They wouldn't even pull up the rest of the carpet! Thank goodness, they did move the furniture out of those two rooms (and into my now very crowded den). After they were safely away in their non-asbestos-breathing bureaucracy, A. and I ripped up the rest of the carpet in both rooms and I learned how to pry up carpet tack. Golly, what fun that was. But we got 'er done. We left the lino for Frank to scrape up; we didn't have the tools (or the oomphs) for it.

We were totally dead by the time Frank came to scrape up the lino for us, take out huge heavy buckets of carpet tack and other trash, put up the microwave, and fight with the sink connections. That lasted until nearly 9pm. We fell into bed the minute he was out the door. And, oh holy crap, were we sore!

Alley's bed, of course, was no longer in her bedroom--she's camping in the den until her room is finished.

Today, there wasn't anything I could help with, so I went to work to sleep get things done there. Here on the home front, the flooring guys started work, and had even put down underlayment and a couple rows of boards in A's bedroom, when they ran into another problem: the concrete slab floor wasn't level. So they had to pour thinset (cement) to level it off, and, of course, drying it all took time (especially because it's humid today). They found the same problem in the sewing room and kitchen/dining area; more thinset, more drying time. Finally, they were able to get started laying cork in the dining area/kitchen sometime after I got home from work. At this writing, it's after 8pm, and they're still at it. But we'll have a finished kitchen and dining area tonight, by gum!

During all the work today, my bedroom somehow got turned into a supply depot for doors, underlayment, and bits of flooring:

I sincerely hope there'll be somewhere else to put that stuff before I hit the hay.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cabinet Day!

"And now...let the wild rumpus start!" --Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak

The cabinet installers began work today and, oh my, are the new cabinets gorgeous or what! We are very pleased with them. I was blown away when I got home from work and saw the nearly-reconstructed kitchen. Here are some pix Sister A. took while the guys were working.

The new cabinets emerge from their boxes.

The first two wall cabinets are up on the stove side of the room (south).

The old sink base is gone (along with the sink, of course). There was a problem with the cut-off valves--they were plastic and looked brittle or scary or something--but Handy Frank came to the rescue and replaced them for us. Now the guys can proceed.

The second pair of south-wall cabinets go up.

Next, the installers put up the window-side (north) wall cabinets. And, yes, that is one very muscle-y young man there. Judging by his T-shirt ("Fill the Boot" for MDA), he's also a firefighter.

All the north-wall cabinets are up, along with the valance, which may be my favorite thing in this whole room (so far).

Tomorrow morning, before the cabinet guys come back, A. and I will zoom over to Home Depot to order the countertops and schedule measurement for same. The cabinet guys are due back around 9:30-10am to finish their installation; they figure they'll be done around noon or 1pm. The flooring installers are scheduled to arrive around 11am, so there'll be overlapping work going on, but they shouldn't get in each other's way.

A. and I will be carrying electronics from room to room as the flooring guys work. In between such fun, however, after the cabinets are all in, we shall be happily restoring our kitchen to functionality.

Our poor kitties--more stompy boots & hammering & general destruction/construction in the house tomorrow, all adding to their already freaked-out state. They'll have to hide in the bathrooms for a while, I guess--those will be the only places that aren't being worked in tomorrow...maybe!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In Memoriam...

Superman & the heroes of September 11, 2001, by Alex Ross

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A bigger and better mess

Turns out the black stuff on the floor is not full of asbestos--our guy said it's basically tar, and if there's asbestos in it, it's a wee tiny amount. But we're getting the rest of the linoleum scraped up--we're halfway through it now, anyway.

As you can see by the photo at left, the flooring arrived yesterday. Holy catfish, it's gorgeous! This is the engineered bamboo that will go in the living room, den (that's the den wall & baseboard it's up against in the left-hand pic), both bedrooms, sewing room, and hall. Cork will go in the kitchen, dining area (basically part of the kitchen), utility room, and both bathrooms. Here's a shot of both of them:

Instead of having all those boxes put in the garage, Sister A. had the delivery guys bring them in and pile them in the den, so it's mighty crowded in there now. Our "pantry", which was sitting on the floor, is now on my credenza, and our few bits of cookware are on my desk. The garage did get some of the floor stuff, though--the underlayment and some mystery object(s) in long round tubes are out there.

And when I came home from work yesterday, the first thing I saw coming in from the garage and utility room was this: our utterly destroyed kitchen and mostly scraped-up floor. But, hey, at least the microwave's hooked up while we don't have a stove!

Nobody in their right mind would live in the house while this amount of hooraw was going on...unless, of course, they aren't rich & don't have a second house. There's that.

The cats were completely freaked out yesterday, what with guys stomping through carrying big boxes and Handy Frank scraping up the kitchen floor. Minnie zoomed under my bed to hide, but found Sammi had already staked a claim there, so she dove into my closet instead. Our poor kitties remained in hiding nearly the whole day.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Our naked dining room is stacked to the rafters with boxes containing the new kitchen cabinets! And all those boxes make for excellent mountain-climbing, as you can see.

Minnie is giving everything a thorough sniffing-over.

I haven't seen Sammi hopping up there yet--that sort of jump might be a little beyond Her Chubbiness.

We haven't gotten the installation scheduled yet, but probably will tomorrow morning. We were hoping it could be done this week, but since there are only three days left in this short week, that's probably pushing it.

Anyway, we have other fish to fry before the house fills with cabinet installation guys. We got a rather nasty surprise regarding floor prep today: the black stuff that we found on some areas of the concrete under the linoleum...

...isn't just a harmless stain from really old mastic. It's a stain resulting from something called "cut-back" that was used to adhere linoleum back in the '60s, when this house was built, and up into the early '70s, when it was outlawed. And whyever would "cut-back" be outlawed? Why, because it's made with asbestos!

Oops. And dammit. And a few other choice words.

The floor-installer-dispatcher-lady said they can't take the stuff out themselves (regulations), so we'll have to arrange to get it "abated" on our own. It'll get done, but it'll cost "a fine bundle of lettuce" that we weren't anticipating. Not so much that it brings the project to a screeching halt, of course (especially since we're in the big middle of things!), but enough to be irritating and kick our final tally up a bit.

Anyway, the clean-up is scheduled to start tomorrow morning. The kitchen/dining area will be stripped down to bare concrete, as will both bathrooms. We doubt if there's any of that stuff under the cheapo carpet, but we'll peel up a corner to peek, just in case.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, flooring is scheduled to arrive Thursday on three big pallets (which I'm told are each a 6' cube!). They'll wait in the garage until we get space enough in the dining room to unpack it all and bring it indoors to acclimate before installation. The floor guys offered to move our installation up a week to next Monday, but with the cut-back situation and cabinets that have to go in before floors, we'll have to stick with our original date.