Full Speed Ahead

 The past week we've come along way from a room with no drywall to now having a refinished floor, painted drywall, and cabinets starting to be placed in the room.

First the floors....

They came out okay and show lots of "character." We are fine with the results, but are suprised that they came out lighter than other floors in the house. A few years ago, we refinished the floors in our office and they came out more amber and matched the rest of the hardwood floors in the house. We used the same sandpaper, floor belt sander, poly - with different results. Weird.

On Friday night we started to prime the walls and ceiling after putting three coats of poly down on the floor. By Saturday afternoon, the walls and ceiling were all painted. It was the fastest completed paint job ever. I'm guessing that we had a nice breeze going though the house that helped speed up drying times and it was not our awesome paint skills that gave us quick results. We used Benjamin Moore's Bunny Gray (but mixed into ACE Hardware paint) and the lightest color on the same color swatch for the ceiling.

The dude is the official photographer around here and he apologizes for the distorted colors in the kitchen due to poor lighting as we only have one bulb in the recessed lighting. The walls do not really look like a Lisa Frank folder in real life.

A few nights ago, the dude cut some 2x4s to act as a back leg support for the cabinets and then we started to put them in place. We haven't fastened them to the wall yet (we are a bit scared making them so permanent and have measured the appliances a number of times to make sure the range and dishwasher fits perfectly). There was a slight freak out about the range dimensions - my Ikea layout and the actual measurement were two different numbers. Yeah, fun.
They (Ikea and the internet) tell you to put on the cabinet fronts at the end of the process. We defied their sage advice and decided to go for it! I started having second thought on my cabinet hardware choices after I read many reviews on the white Ramsjo cabinets that we chose. The cabinet fronts kind of read a bit pink. (Just tell me it's not that bad, please). Since we own all of the cabinet fronts, we are taking a deep breath and soldering on.

This weekend we need to continue placing cabinets and I need to order cabinet hardware. Eek!

Next post...the fun details - lighting, hardware, and inspiration.


Floors and Walls

We've been at a slow pace with the kitchen due to the crazy amount of inspections our town requires (like an insulation inspection!) and scheduling some of the subcontractors.

I know on many renovation blogs, some people have mixed emotions about hiring some of the work out. After working on a few rooms in our house, I learned that I won't touch electrical and professional drywallers are magic. When we opened the walls of the kitchen, we found knob and tube, some interesting 1980s electrical fixes, and singe marks from some old lighting fixers on some of the upper beams. Deciding not to burn our house down by doing the electrical ourselves was an easy decision. We found a local company that are known to work with knob and tube and so far we've been really happy with their work.

On Sunday, we tackled a project that we knew how to do well. Refinishing the kitchen floors!

As you can see, we've replaced the old window, the electrical is roughed-in, and insulation has been added. So, back to the floors. They weren't bad but there was an old slightly sticky layer of dark glue that was probably put down on the floor when the house was built. When we did the demo of the room, we were lucky and only had to remove a layer of luon and peel and stick tile. I'm assuming that when the room was last renovated in the 1980s, that they removed the original linoleum but left the glue remnants.

A little glue wasn't going to scare us (although in the end the glue kept sticking to the sandpaper). This was our third go at using the drum sander in our house. Remember when we refinished the floors upstairs?

Under the window, hidden beneath the cabinets, was a nice hole. Perhaps they cut it out for a vent...who knows?! Finding 2 1/2 inch width heart pine became a bit of a task. After calling around to a few salvage places in the Philly area, we were blessed with finding stock at Provenance Architecturals. Seriously the dreamiest place in the world. Not only do they have cool salvaged items but they also have a nice stock of live edge slabs that are exquisite. We gathered some floor boards from the store (and tried not to purchase anything else) and feathered them into the space where we had no floor.

So, why am I not sharing beautiful refinished floor pictures? Because they aren't done yet. On Sunday night, we added the first layer of poly onto our freshly sanded floors and then found out the next day that the drywallers wanted to come on Tuesday (they were originally scheduled to come on Thursday). We let that first layer of poly dry and today we covered the floors up with paper. But today, today we will have walls!


The Plan - Layout

It took us about a year to seriously decide on a layout for the new kitchen and the looming expiration of an IKEA kitchen sale to push us to make the move. Since it's a weird shape and pretty small, after many drawings on scrap pieces of paper, we decided to stick with a very similar layout with a few minor adjustments. Yeah, not that exciting.

We kept the appliances on the right side of kitchen in basically the same spots. The stove and sink are the same locations, but the dishwasher moves over a bit to be next to the sink. The big change for that side of the room are for the cabinets that are under the window at the end of the kitchen - they are gone! and the kitchen goes to a true galley layout. With the cabinets under the window gone, we will be able to have a better view of the backyard - primary to make sure that the dog isn't eating a squirrel or a rabbit. 

You'll also notice that we are living on the edge with having no uppper cabinets flanking the stove and no microwave/fan combo (more on that below). I know, CRAZY! Depending on how it goes, we may add open shelving to that wall if we need more storage. What we are adding, are two 24" wide drawer cabinets for plates, bowls, pots, and pans.

Now for the other side of the kitchen! In the picture below, we have the fridge, a pantry, and then an upper and lower 12" wide cabinets. Our microwave will be going into the pantry to keep the counter tops free of appliances.

Due to code regulations, we have to change the swing of the door that currently goes over the mudroom steps (located near that upper/lower cabinet. It's the ivory door that you can see here) and have it swing into the room which eats up precious kitchen space. In order to make it work, we are going to switch the location of the fridge and pantry from the rendering above's layout and hopefully still be able to get a shallow depth bottom cabinet in there too. By switching the fridge and pantry, we will not need to have 7 inches on the left side of the fridge (for the filler strip) to be able to open it fully and will only need 2 inches for the pantry doors to open against that wall.

I'm depending having that single upper and lower cabinet for the coffee maker and baking supplies as well as having a home for an USB outlet above the counter top. Since the room has been gutted, we have done a lot of double and triple checking our measurements and it will be close. Fingers crossed it works!


Hi, remember me.

Hi, all! Remember me? Lisa from southern New Jersey, owner of The Pilot, partner in crime to the Dude?

Well, it's been some time since I posted last but I'm starting up the old blog again to share what's been going on with our house projects and to share a new project we are currently working on. 

A few weeks ago we finally got our act together and decided to create a bit of a mess with a full-gut of our lame, sad, kitchen from 1984. Who doesn't like some organized destruction...perhaps our neighbors who could not park in front of our house for a few days?

I think our old kitchen had the potential to win one of those "World's Worst Kitchen" contests but we aren't that motivated to make a stupid video, send it in, and be actor-y.  I'd rather pay good money for a kitchen that I like than be stuck with one of show's "designer's" wacky ideas.

Here's our kitchen all cleared out and in it's former state of being...

Okay, let's discuss the ugly:
  • faux parquet floors
  • faux butcher block countertops
  • faux wood cabinets
  • faux brick paneling
  • faux wood plank ceiling
  • two boob lights
  • no good soffit
  • peeling painted over wallpaper (my mother decided the day we moved in to start ripping off the wallpaper because it was "fun" - that was nine years ago)
This kitchen was filled with fakes like a New York city street corner. 

After we filled up those two Bagsters, our kitchen became a shell of a kitchen. You'll note that prior to the kitchen's last remodel in 1984, there was a large window to the right. That was the only surprise we found and lots of bad electrical wiring.

Thanks for reading to this point and I hope you stick around for more updates at a higher frequency.

Yay for a kitchen remodel!


Tutorial: Wood Wall

As promised, but a bit late, here's how we installed the wood wall in the bathroom.

First, we got a sick amount of neatly organized lath from Eva's gut job house in the country. Seriously, she handed over the neatest piles of wood organized by size.

The dude put up some luon on the wall and then we started the assembly-line process.The wood pieces were then installed with a finish nailer and some wood glue. We tried to vary the lengths and colors ... trying to be random we found to be hard at times.
We could only work on the bottom half of the wall since we had to wait to have the electrician come back to hook up the rest of the wiring.After the electrician came and did his magic, we added the top piece a luon. I was going to write a message on the wall before the luon went up, but I forgot. The message would be something like: What? You don't like this wood wall. You are a poopy head. I still have a chance to roll up a little note before the floor molding goes in.We mitered the end pieces and kept checking for square before we installed the side section of the wall. This part of the wall wasn't really square to begin with and adding the wood allowed us to fudge square.
After the wall was complete, the dude sanded the wall and added some of our hardwood floor poly on it. By sanding it, the white parts of the wood were removed to reveal a light color wood. Secretly, I like the wall better before the sanding but now I won't have a chance to get a major splinter if (when) I walk into the wall.

I have to give mega props of inspiration to the jersey ice cream co. Their wood wall is super awesome and inspired my project.

If you live in Philadelphia, they will even come to your place and install your very own lath wall.


Zoom in - Zoom out

What's that you ask? Oh, it's our finished wood wall!

Also, we finally got around to picking a grout color, getting it up on the tub wall, and installing the fixtures.

We went with the color "Alabaster" to match the same color as the floor tile grout (and to hide any mortar mistakes). It really makes the white glass tiles look brighter.

Tomorrow I'll share how we installed the wall o'wood!


The to do-do bathroom list

Yep, I put a poop reference in my title.

If you remember, we started the upstairs bathroom the last few days of May of this year. We thought the renovation would take us just a few months (silly us, we thought we'd be done in October) but are now "celebrating" our 7th month mark. Thank goodness we have two bathrooms.

Here's what's left (which I'm sure I'm missing stuff):


  • install vanity and figure out some tricky plumbing

  • build concrete counter top and install (easy, right?!)

  • Grout n' stuff

  • fix tub surround grout (we sortof ran out during the process and tried to make what we had last. the result was shallow grout lines)

  • seal tub surround grout

  • caulk the tub

  • Bathtub

  • install fixtures

  • get new drain and install

  • get metal corner thing to hold soap and shampoo

  • decide on a shower curtain and rod and put it up

  • Wood wall

  • finish installing wood wall - sand - seal

  • Paint

  • sand touch-up areas

  • paint touch-up areas on wall and ceiling

  • one more coat on moldings

  • Storage and accessories

  • decide on towel storage and vanity storage system

  • hang towel hooks

  • make toilet paper holder

  • frame and hang art work

  • get some general accessories

  • Other

  • get a door and hang

  • figure out window shade/curtain solution

  • We are so close to finishing up! Next project on the list to tackle ... our office! Who else is already mentally working on the next project without finishing the current one?