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3/31/2011

Flooring!

The new flooring has finally been ordered and I can’t tell you how happy that makes me!!! We actually started looking at flooring (way back in early December) long before we started looking at cabinets or countertops or anything else kitchen related.  We went to dozens of stores (Lowe’s, Home Depot, Edens Carpet One, DPM, Compton’s, Lumber Liquidators, Bristol Flooring, Floors 4 U, etc.) to try to narrow things down, but ended up even more confused.  So we basically dropped the flooring ball for a while.  So, needless to say I am VERY happy to see “purchase flooring” crossed off the ole’ listeroo

Our plan is to lay our new flooring over top of the existing parquet flooring (in the kitchen, family room, entry hall, and hallway that leads to the bedrooms).  We attempted to remove the parquet, but failed miserably.  We discovered that this task would not be worth the time or effort it would take to do it.  So instead we’ll just bury the old stuff under the new stuff!  We also plan to rip up the old mint green carpet (in the living room and dining room) and replace it with the same new wood flooring.  We think having the same flooring throughout (with the exception of the bedrooms which were recently recarpeted and the bathrooms) will make the house feel more cohesive and open up the space!  I had no idea, however, that there would be so many different decisions and choices to make in regards to flooring.

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The first question we had to answer was… What type of flooring do we want?  Laminate?  Engineered wood?  or Solid wood?  There are pros and cons for each of these options, so it was definitely not an easy choice.  But after much discussion (and hours of online research by Craig and countless visits to local flooring stores) we finally decided that we wanted a solid wood floor. 

The next question we had to answer was… What type of solid wood do we want?  Oak?  Maple?  Cherry?  Bamboo? Hickory?  Koa?  Teak?  and the list goes on and on…  We spoke with dozens of flooring guys about which species of wood would stand up best against us, our dog, and our child.  We took home several samples which Craig torture tested (i.e. dropped hammers on, tried to cut with knives, and left sitting in bowls of water over night) to see what might be the most durable and stand the test of time.

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All of our research (at home, online, and in the stores) showed that bamboo, more specifically strand woven bamboo, could be a very smart choice for us.  It’s the only species of wood that was rated over 100% for both stability and hardness on the chart below.  I mean it just blows northern red oak out of the water!  Plus it’s an environmentally friendly choice… so kudos for that too!

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So once we knew what type of solid wood we wanted (strand woven bamboo) the next question we had to answer was… How do we want to install it?  Nail it (which would be easiest, but we can’t do since our house is built on a slab)?  Float it (I hadn’t realized that you could do this with a solid wood, but apparently you can)?  or Glue it (which could be difficult and time consuming)?  Again, there were pros and cons with each.  But in the end we decided that we wanted to do a glue down installation… I guess we’re just gluttons for punishment or something.  But we really think (or rather we hope) we’ll end up with a nicer finished product!

Once we decided on what we wanted it was time to compare prices everywhere.  We reviewed all of the notes that we had taken at all of the different stores we visited.  And the winner was… drumroll pleaseLumber Liquidators!  They had the best prices by far!  And since we were going to need about 1000 square feet (or two pallets of wood) flooring they were offering us a $0.10 discount per square foot (which is apparently fairly common practice in flooring, but exciting none-the-less!)!

We revisited the store (a couple of times) and LOVED their bamboo selection!  We fell in love with their 3/8” x 3-3/4” carbonized strand woven bamboo (in the picture above it’s top row, second on the left). We think the color is warm and rich without being too dark or red. It’s a happy medium for us, which we really like!  I guess you could say we were “bamboozled” by Lumber Liquidators’ carbonized strand woven bamboo!

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So, the plan (for over a month now) has been to purchase this flooring from Lumber Liquidators.  In fact, we even drove over to the store about a month ago with the intentions of buying the floors, but then realized that we’d have no place to put it until we were ready to install (Since our cabinets and appliances have been delivered and our kitchen and family room have been emptied out, space is currently at a premium in our house).  So, we just decided to put the purchase on hold until the kitchen project was a little further underway. 

Turns out we definitely made the right choice!  Low and behold, over the weekend Craig received an e-mail from Lumber Liquidators saying that they are having an “End of Quarter Clearance” on all in-stock floors.  Score!  I ran over to the store earlier this week and talked to the salesman about what exactly the sale was (a.k.a. how much moolah could we save).  On top of the $0.10 discount we would already get they were offering an additional $0.30 off per square foot!  That $0.40 total discount per square foot equaled a $400 total savings on the floors!  Cha-Ching!!! 

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So the moral of the story is not that the early bird impulsive shopper always catches the worm best deal, but that good things really do come to those who wait!

3/30/2011

Kitchen Reno Checklist Update

I thought that I would post an update on our kitchen renovation checklist so that you can see how things are moving along.  I’ve made a few changes to the original to-do list.  The items in orange are things that we’re no longer doing and the items in blue are things that I forgot to include on the list the first time around.

  1. Finalize kitchen layout
  2. Interview & hire general contractor (we ended up not going with a contractor after our guy bailed on us at the last minute… so far that decision seems to be working out okay, but only time will tell if we made the right choice deciding to do the majority of the work ourselves)
  3. Interview & hire electrician
  4. Interview & hire drywaller
  5. Purchase & install cabinets
  6. Purchase & install appliances
  7. Purchase & install countertops
  8. Purchase & install floors
  9. Demolition
    1. Knock down wall separating kitchen & family room
    2. Remove built-in book cases in family room
    3. Remove old cabinets
    4. Remove old countertops
    5. Remove paneling in kitchen & family room
    6. Remove old carpet & parquet flooring (we attempted to remove the old parquet, but quickly decided not to go that route… it was way too difficult to do… so, we’re just going to install our new floors on top of the existing parquet)
    7. Remove old appliances
  10. Build knee wall for peninsula
  11. Install vent for cooktop in knee wall
  12. Level floors
  13. Plumbing
    1. Disconnect & reconnect sink
    2. Move water line for fridge
    3. Install new fixtures
  14. Electrical
    1. Replace existing wiring in family room
    2. Rework all wiring in kitchen
    3. Upgrade electrical panel to 200 amp service
    4. Install new lighting
  15. Reinsulate walls if needed
  16. Drywall entire kitchen & family room
  17. Repair ceilings
  18. Paint
  19. Replace built-in bookcases & recessed area in family room
  20. Replace interior doors
  21. Install crown molding
  22. Install baseboard & 1/4 round molding
  23. Install cabinet hardware
  24. Unexpected stuff (because you never know what we’ll find when we begin to get into the walls)

So, as you can see we’ve been pretty busy of the past few days… but we’re still far from done with the project.  But we’re definitely excited about the direction it’s heading!

3/28/2011

Building a 1/2 Wall…

…turned out to be the perfect project for my dad!  While Craig and I got a jump-start on running wires through the walls and attic, my dad decided to put his carpentry skills to good use and build the 1/2 wall that would be the basis for our new peninsula. 

Here’s a refresher of what the kitchen should look like without the wall separating it from the family room and with the new peninsula in place (Keep in mind that the peninsula will have a 12” overhang on the family room side, so these pictures aren’t 100% accurate… but they’re pretty darned close).

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Here’s an “in progress” shot.

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And here’s the result.  Not bad, huh?

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Things are really starting to take shape!  It’s getting easier every day to imagine what it will look like all done!  Can’t wait!

Wide Open Spaces!

It had been suggested to us that we open up the doorway from the entry hall into the family room.  As we thought about it, the idea seemed like a really smart one!  Opening the doorway would make the family room feel so much more open to the rest of the house.  Plus, a wider doorway would match the wide doorway from the entry hall into the living room. 

So, once everything else had been taken down we figured “what the heck” and went for it!  Here’s a picture to remind you what the doorway looked like before… a pretty standard sized opening.

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And here’s my dad hard at work cutting out the doorway (Not bad for 70+ years old!  You go daddy!).

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And finally, here’s our wider, more open doorway… complete with an unobstructed view into the kitchen (Just look past the fridge that is now living in the middle of the family room.  You gotta love kitchen renovations!).

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3/27/2011

Woops!

Craig had a bit of an accident while working in the attic yesterday.  His foot slipped off of a ceiling joist and he ended up knocking a big hole in the laundry room ceiling… leaving the laundry room floor covered with insulation and pieces of plaster.

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Now, I had mentioned before that we plan to repair the ceilings in the laundry room, but we didn’t plan to do this until after moving the HVAC unit into the attic.  I guess we’ll be doing it a bit sooner than we thought. 

On the bright side… with the exception of his pride, Craig was unharmed by the incident!

Knocking Down the Wall…

…separating the kitchen and the family room turned out to be quite the task!  We knew the wall was load-bearing and that we would therefore have to reinforce things with a beam.  We originally hired someone to do this job for us… but as mentioned in my last post, our contractor bailed on us and Craig (a mechanical engineer by day) decided that we could just do the job ourselves. 

The plan was to install two 2 x 12 beams in the attic to reinforce the ceiling joists. The beams would be connected to the ceiling joists and would rest on wall studs to carry the load. Easy, right?  Craig thought so.  He pulled out his old college text books and did some homework load equations to make sure that his plan for reinforcing the beam would work… according to his calculations it absolutely would. 

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I was a little very skeptical, but decided to step out there in faith and let the hubby do his thing (You go Craig!  Show us what Georgia Tech engineers are made of!)

The first step in removing the old wall was building a temporary wall out of 2 x 4’s to support the ceiling. 

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Then Craig had to cut back the ceiling joists in the attic in order to make room for the beams.  Once the joists were cut, the only thing preventing the ceiling from coming down was our temporary wall.  Thankfully it held up!

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Next we installed the first and then the second beam.  We attached them to the ceiling joists with joist hangers and nailed them in place.  Once everything was secured we were left with a super strong beam to distribute the load in the ceiling.  Nicely done!

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After things in the attic were reinforced came the fun part… removing the old wall separating the kitchen and the family room!  We used a combination of cuts with the reciprocating saw and whacks with a sledge hammer to get the job done.

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This left us with just our temporary wall which we could now take down.

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We then had to do a little bit of framing to build the wall where our new built-in bookcases will go.  I got to use the framing nailer, which was pretty awesome!

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When we were done we were left with a nice, big, open view from the family room into the kitchen

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3/26/2011

Kitchen Renovation Day 1

Today was D – Day (demolition day) in the Leonberg house!  The kitchen renovation has been officially kicked off.  Craig and I are both taking vacation time off from work next week to get the project underway.  Bailey has been shipped off to S.C. with the grand mothers and my dad will be here through Wednesday to help us work.  We are going to be doing about 85% of the work ourselves… I know, completely crazy! 

In our defense though… this was not our original plan.  We had every intention of hiring a contractor.  In fact, we interviewed 4 contractors.  We picked the one that appeared to be the best man for the job.  About 2 weeks before beginning the project Craig called the guy to confirm the start date and finalize the details.  To our surprise, the contractor informed us that he had gotten a full time job and that he had signed a contract stating that he wouldn’t take on other jobs on the side.  What the crap!?!  And then, to make matters worse, Craig decided that we didn’t really “need” a contractor and that we could do it all (knock down the load bearing wall, reinforce the beam in the attic, build a new half wall, etc.) ourselves.  You gotta be kidding me!  So after throwing a brief hissy fit I calmed down and decided to have faith in my husband (although I did tell him that I would reserve the right to say “I told you so” if necessary later on in the project).  Wasn’t that so good of me?  I think so!

Anyway… today was the day!  Our plan for today was to get all of the demolition items on the to-do list (except for removing the old carpet) done.  Talk about setting the bar high.  But we got right down to work and got most of our goals for the day accomplished!

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Here are a few before and after pictures to show you what we accomplished:

The family room (view looking from family room towards the kitchen) BEFORE…

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The family room at the END OF DAY 1…

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As you can see, in the family room all of the moldings and trims were taken out, the built in book shelves and desk were ripped out, and the paneling was removed.

The kitchen BEFORE (view looking from front of kitchen to back)

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(view from back of kitchen to front)

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(view of wall separating kitchen from family room)

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And the kitchen at the END OF DAY 1…

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And in the kitchen we took off all of the moldings and trims, ripped out the paneling, got rid of the old appliances (bye bye avocado green!), ripped out all of the cabinets (hooray!), removed the countertops, and attempted (but failed miserably) to take up the old parquet hardwood floors.  We didn’t quite get the wall separating the kitchen and the family room removed.  Since the wall is load-bearing we have to take extra care when removing it.  Unfortunately we ran into a few road bumps which slowed down the process of reinforcing the beams in the attic.  But this job will definitely be done early tomorrow!  I’ll keep you all posted on the progress!

So, as you can see we’re definitely on our way to having a new “kitchen of our dreams”! 

What a difference a days makes!