Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Climax . . .

Bet you wondered where I was. Well, I've been COOKING!!!  Seriously, the kitchen is really done and it's even all away and organized. The final act was the backsplash. Matthew and I spent several hours at the tile store and sure enough, the first choice was the best.

I am in love with my pantry, particularly the rolling shelves:

I even have a baking cabinet! Did I mention I don't really bake?

When all is said and done, I have decided to change my analogy. I think a kitchen remodel is less like porn and more like pregnancy. There are months of insanity, weight gain, mood swings, crying jags, throwing things and swearing at people (husands and strangers), not seeing a light at the end of the tunnel and never-ending doubt and questions. But at the end of the, um, project, there you have it; a wonderful bundle of joy.

Guess I have to remodel the second kitchen next. (Also kind of like pregnancies and babies: you forget the bad part and just remember the great end result. That's why people have more than one!) Cheers!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Premature Celebration . . .

I suppose it was inevitable that I would peak too early. Yes, in the week since I last posted, we are in almost the same exact place. That is to say, the kitchen is essentially done. Which is nothing like being actually done. It's a little like a Disney facade. It looks perfect, but if you get close you see all the things that aren't quite right: The spacing between doors, the scratches that need touching up, the other oh so minor things like the gas not being connected to the stove and the water not running to the fridge. But the silver lining is that I am not paying for it until my ever-growing punch list is complete, so it's to their advantage to finish already! Still, it is fair to say that the big stuff is done (well, the stove and water line are big, I know). We are doing the backsplash this week. My goal was end of January so we have 48 hours. I was so anxious over it we actually lined all the shelves today, even though I can't put anything away. But we are ready! In the meantime, these pictures certainly do suffice:

The long view:

The view into the island area:

The hidden pantry (which was a stroke of genius on my part, if I do say so myself):

The main pantry (and notice the camouflaged pole!):

The very, very, very important wine bar:

Looking over the bar:

Another view over the bar: 

Another view of the beautiful range:

Looking into the island/pantry:

OK, that's a lot of pictures, I know. Next post will include the backsplash and hopefully the wine bar fully stocked. And me with a glass.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Speed kills . . .

What else can explain the fact that the last few weeks, the pace has slowed to the speed of dark. Of course, it's no one's fault. It's not the appliance people's. It's not the contractor. It's not the granite. Nope, it's just what happens (Sarcasm meter high). I do realize that some things are inevitable, but some of the delays have simply been do to disorganization, mis-management of time and resources and, in my estimation, laziness. There have been many days when I considered just throwing in the towel, but of course that's irrational. Not even my daily drooling on and over my appliances could cheer me up. In fact, they were mocking me, sitting there with that come-hither look but remaining unplugged and useless.

Finally, after literally weeks of delays I was scheduled for a granite template, to be followed a week later by the install. (Due to the fact that we were so late, the granite people finally took us off the schedule. By the time we were ready they were booked solid. Sigh.)

Template was fine. The install was another matter. Based on the discussion I had with the installer, he seemed not to like the template person very much. And by that I mean I think he hated him. He continually second-guessed what we were doing and complained the entire time about the tight fit of the oven. And I'm not even sure why we had the template person here since the installer didn't actually do the fine cutting until he got her, which meant, yup, another later of dust.  He freaked out about the oven and having to move it (and I discovered later had taken the door off the hinges. Lucky for him we were able to fix it). I was quite literally panicked that he was going to leave the job or worse, do a bad job. To make matters worse, I was trapped in my house all 7 hours they were here; someone had to be here and besides, their truck and equipment were all set up in my driveway. The sound and smell of cutting and polishing the granite was getting on my very last nerve. I resolved not to sneak a peek until they were done as I knew it would freak me out.

Then lo and behold, they were finished. And as cranky as he was, it came out great. Perfect in fact:

It may be hard to see, but it's called Cashmere White and it's incredible; grey/white with flecks of the dark brown and glints of silver. I would take a close-up but now the counters are covered with tarp as the workers are here to HOPEFULLY finish the rest. This is the part that's like a death by a thousand cuts. But we are on the home stretch.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The object of my desires . . .

I really love stainless steel. I mean appliances. I mean kitchen appliances. After long lust, er, last, my appliances arrived. It took three separate deliveries, a return and reorder of a microwave, but these gleaming beauties are finally here. Here's the glorious KitchenAid refrigerator.

The KitchenAid range is a work of art - it's a double oven without taking up wall space! I love it so much I can't bear to take the protective coating off it.

So I'm done, right? Ha ha ha ha ha. So funny. We still have a cabinet to replace, a door to replace and the granite hasn't even been templated yet. And then there's the "little" things that I just know will take forever - hardware, adjusting drawers, caulk. Arg. But at least there's a light at the end of the tunnel. I predict the end of January. In the meantime, I will sit in my kitchen and pet my appliances. The kitchen ones, of course.

Friday, December 30, 2011

A good man is hard to find . . .

Especially when he designed my cabinets. So finally a few words about my cabinets. After looking at virtually every option, from IKEA to full custom, we decided to go with cabinets from . . . wait for it . . . Costco. Yup, they were right there between the giant package of toilet paper and 40 pounds of ground beef! OK, not really. But they were indeed from Costco's "exclusive" distributor, and are all wood, really well made, and came with all sorts of added bells and whistles, like soft close doors and drawers. And it probably goes without saying that the prices could not be beat. I'm pretty sure my correspondence with my designer, JP (really), seemed incredibly steamy - furtive phone calls and emails in the night, plus lots of photo attachments. But then poof, right there in my inbox was my design. And then there it was again. And again. And again. After the various delays and hurdles, JP took it all in stride and kept at it, re-designing the kitchen to accommodate every problem and scenario. I realize that's what a kitchen designer is supposed to do, but I didn't expect someone from Costco to do that.

The only problem, of course, was delivery. Not that there were any snafus, oh except the monsoon that decided to break at the exact moment the giant semi truck pulled in front of my house. No, the issue is that the cabinets are delivered "fully assembled!" And when there are about 200 items "fully assembled!" in the middle of my living room, it's just a bit crowded.

But believe it or not, out of this chaos came some pretty sweet cabinets:

That's just a start, of course. Not surprisingly, there are some issues. Like I ordered a big corner cabinet without a Lazy Susan. And one cabinet is too big. Again, my fault. But Costco is replacing it! Hey, do you think I will get my Costco rebate points for this order? Sure beats the hell out of buying coffee and diapers.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Not now, dear, I have a headache.

I fully expected this project to be full of headaches, but I meant that figuratively, not literally. As it turns out, the floors are causing both. First I was elated to discover the original, same wood under tile. All it needed was a little TLC and it would be good as "new." I know now how ludicrous that sounds; I suppose I watched one too many HGTV shows to think it would be that easy. There goes yet another fantasy down the drain. But that wasn't even the worst of it. Because we removed some walls, there were also patches that had no flooring at all. I was assured - repeatedly - that it would be "no big deal" to patch these areas and match them perfectly to the existing flooring. Every time I questioned the reality of this, my contractor might as well have patted me on the head and told me not to worry my pretty little self about it, he'd take care of it.

So now it was time for the floor. And,a big cleaning because all the dust-producing work was done. I did a little jig! Since we had already sent our dog to the boarder, and because we were all so sick of the dust and the stain would stink to high heaven, we decided to use some of Matthew's 400,000 Marriott points and check ourselves into a hotel. We only needed two nights and we'd come home to a spiffy new kitchen floor and a nice clean house! Hurrah!

You know what's coming, right? Yup. The floor wasn't quite so easy to match - particularly when the workers bought PRE-FINISHED wood that they thought perfectly matched my 70-year-old red oak. Um, no. After they consented to replace the wood with appropriate flooring, my contractor discovered he couldn't actually match the stain. Nor had he been able to bring the covered up wood back to life. So two days wasted, tons of points gone, and yup, no floor. He called in a flooring company because they could do the job (which, BTW, is still a fairly small space) really well and really quickly. And, he promised, with no dust, since we just had a big cleaning. But by now I did not want to go back to the hotel, so we stayed through during the staining. The smell was unbearable, particularly since it was raining and we couldn't open the windows. And of course, the no-dust claim was a more vivid fantasy than even I could come up with. There was a fine coating of wood dust all over everything, including the furniture that we had carefully covered and the cleaning crew uncovered. And the piece de rĂ©sistance: the cleaning crew unplugged our fridge, which of course was in the living room, and didn't plug it back in. Which we didn't discover for several days because we had been at the hotel and then were trapped out of the room during staining, so we lost just about everything in it.  Palm slap to forehead now.

And this is where the actual headache comes in. Two days of oil-based stain followed by sealant trapped in a closed up house is a great recipe for a blinding headache, in case you're ever in need of a manufactured one, if you get my drift. But hey, we have floors now:

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Good News, Bad News

Yes, I have good news to report! The good news is I have not gone on a homicidal rampage yet. Or had an official nervous breakdown, just small ones where I curl up with a glass of wine and whimper softly. So I guess that's progress. I was fully prepared for the usual time (and money) overages, but days when workers simply don't show up were not in my plans and are sending me over the edge. I have tried to stay out of it, figuring if I mother-henned (OK, nagged) my contractor too much it would make things worse. And the problem is I have known him for quite some time so I have been hesitant to be more "firm" (OK, bitchy) with him. But I'm just about at my limit. Because things are going from bad to worse (more on that later).

On a bright note, the walls are looking lovely, painted in Sand Trap by Sherwin Williams.

And the wood floor unearthed under three layers of tile has been cleaned up enough to save it. Hurrah!

So what's the bad news? Well, besides the MIA workers just a few minor details. For one thing, the overall mess and dust storm is starting to wear on all of us. I mop, dust and generally clean every day, but the plaster was like talc in the way it exploded and migrated all over the house. It is literally on every surface here, including my upstairs bedroom on the OTHER SIDE OF THE HOUSE. It doesn't help that Kit Kat, our dog, is so happy when people are here she can't stay away from them. So besides the overall sheen of dust on everything, there are paw prints everywhere. It stopped being cute about a week ago and I have now sent her to the farm. (No, I didn't put her down, there's a boarding farm we use).

The cabinets are delayed, but that's actually a good thing as the floor is no where close to being finished (which is a subject that will get its own post). And likewise the appliances are late and the refrigerator is on back order. Who knew there would be a run of stainless steel French door fridges? I'm not willing to settle on different appliances, as these stainless steel goodies were the impetus of my fantasy and I have designed the entire kitchen around them.

And then there's the subject of our second kitchen. It would seem like a great thing that we have a second kitchen, but it's not actually helping. We have it sort of set up, but it's really impossible to reconstruct everything. And then the other shoe dropped: the dishwasher in that kitchen doesn't work. So I have given up even trying to cook full meals. I have switched almost entirely to paper and plastic and I apologize to the environment, but I am just over it. I have made one exception: glass wine glasses. I simply can't drink from plastic.

This project has made me so tired. By the end of the day I am so weary I barely have the strength to open a bottle of wine (no martinis - too many steps and additional things to clean).