Monday, February 15, 2010

Kitchen Odyssey: Status Update

I think it will be cutting it close to finish this project by the 28th, but we have no one to blame but ourselves. Small design changes can cost days, not to mention one delay caused by the city inspector. I’d say overall we are about 4-5 days over schedule (that would be the schedule in my head, because I have never bothered to actually write it down, although I had the best of intentions). By all accounts we are whipping through the project and people are always shocked to think we did a total demo (including moving a wall and relocating a door) in one month. Mind you, I am not complaining, just stating the facts.

Last week was the week of mud. This is not something an amateur should do, and our main man Mikey wanted it done right, so he opted out. Electrician Son sent us over the best, Schaefer Drywall (they just got done doing Condoleeza Rice’s home here in the Bay Area). Owner Mark lives about 6 blocks from us and could’ve walked over if he didn’t need to bring so much equipment and supplies. When we moved in 15 years ago, the kitchen had wallpaper, which we stripped. The walls were essentially flat with no texture. The adjacent dining room (aka my office) had been used as a family room and had paneling. We removed the paneling and did a skip trowel texture on the walls, mostly because it was the easiest and quickest texture to accomplish and it hides a multitude of sins. This type of texturing can be found on any 1970s-1980s tract home and I could tell right away that Mark didn’t like it. He hinted about it. He called Electrician Son and asked if he thought we would consider changing it. Eventually he asked us himself and we agreed to do something a bit classier. This meant retexturing the whole dining room, rather than just the one pony wall. So an extra day with Mark and Joe, but it looks wonderful and we are very happy.

Then came the paint decision. Our realtor wanted us to keep in neutral, although she did say we could have an accent wall in the dining room. I brought home paint samples and stared at them for 3 weeks. I took them outside, I took them up to the realtor while she held an open house, I asked everyone’s opinions. No consensus. I finally decided that the color in the foyer and hallway, Ralph Lauren Roadster White, would work well throughout. It is a warm creamy color that we like and it would tie the rooms together. Mr B and I primed the two rooms and one foyer wall on Friday, which made me realize I am not as young as I used to be. We fired up the hot tub to relieve the sore muscles and aching joints earned after 6 hours of hard work. But it was ready for the painter on Saturday morning and we now have a completely blank canvas, ready for floors, cabinets and counters.

We have also ordered our faucet. Again, not an easy thing to do. There are so many choices: one handle or two, two handle centerset or single hole, with or without side spray, integral spray feature with or without pause mode. Chrome, nickel, bronze, stainless, black, white. Retro, modern, traditional, classic. Hot water dispenser, cold water dispenser, soap dispenser. You get the picture. I had to whittle things down one by one.

• One hole, one handle
• Integral spray (aerated and rinse functions) with pause mode
• Stainless steel, to go with the sink
• Modern, but in keeping with the detailing on our cabinets

I’ve gone to several showrooms and looked online. Prices range from $200-1,500. I have had enough faucets to know I should not skimp and to get a brand that is well built and will not fall apart in a year or two. We finally settled on a Moen 90 Degree Pull Out Faucet. It’s got square features, which fits in with the cabinetry, and it is about 12 inches high, meaning only an inch will be visible above the windowsill. I’m still debating a soap dispenser. I hate having too many holes in the counter, and because we already have the air gap and are installing an air button for the disposal, I am hesitant to add the 4th hole. But I like the idea of a dispenser and it gives us the option of using the hole for something else later.

I was also able to check off the foyer title from my list. The current flooring is 4x4 puke gold tiles with grout that probably was beige back in the day but is now dark brown (no amount of scrubbing can return it to its original incarnation, believe me, I have tried). We keep it covered by a rug. So it’s time to chip it up and do it again. Budget constraints meant using slate or getting something from the clearance aisle. My goal was to keep it under $500, which wasn’t terribly easy for 77 sf. It can also be a difficult choice. The first showroom we went to, back when we were also looking at backsplash options, almost caused me to have a meltdown with sheer volume of choices. I’ve since been to several other showrooms and have built up my tolerance for wandering aisles ten times over to look at samples. On Saturday we went over to Grand Tile, where we bought our cabinets and counters, as we knew they had a good selection. But they were closed. So we headed to a nearby store, Artistic Stone Gallery in San Carlos.

The young salesperson was quick to help us find something within our budget. I don’t like anything shiny and Mr. B has been expressing his reservation about slate, which can have some pretty irregular color variations, so we looked at other natural stones and perused the sale aisle, which had some very good choices. We found one 12x12 stone option at $2.69/sf that was displayed in a pattern with 2x2 accent stones. While we liked the layout, the stone wasn’t quite right. Samantha found us a similar stone that was on sale in the main showroom that worked perfectly. The final decision was 12x12 Jerusalem Gold Honed Limestone with 2x2 Red Tumbled Onyx to use as accent. We will put an enhancer/sealer on the tiles once they are set to liven the colors a bit and I think it will look great with the hardwood flooring. This actually came in about $20 over budget due to the 2 sheets of 2x2 that were $9.50 each. But without the accent, the floor would be a bit boring, so it was worth the extra little bit.

We also ordered some register vents for the 2 rooms. I wanted something a bit more decorative but not overly so. Some of the nicer ones do not have a damper (that can be opened and closed), so I opted for a 4x14 Wicker Brushed Nickel Floor Register. Simple but a nice accent in both kitchen and dining room.

I am doing my best to ignore the thick layer of dust that has built up. I did sweep, vacuum and dust once last weekend, but I know it is futile. I think the hardest thing about doing a project like this is the lack of control that I feel. I have to let go of the need to cook and keep the house clean, try not to worry about delays and glitches, and just have fun with it all. Fortunately every one who has been involved in the project has been upbeat and happy, keeping the mood light around here. Now if Mikey would just stop singing to the radio….

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