Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day 283- Shimmy Shimmy Coco Puff

We have upper cabinets, as you know. So now it's time for base cabinets. Usually, Ikea recommends these funny little feet things;

For those wondering; yes, we do have that particular cabinet.

but Hubbs and I like to over build and over engineer everything. The people who get this house after us will be confused. Some stuff will be really overbuilt (what we build), some stuff will be built just fine (original to the house) and some stuff will be practically falling down (previous owners). That might sound harsh, but you haven't seen our deck. Suffice to say that at least 3 support posts are just hanging off the bottom of the deck. We don't let people out there.

Where was I going with this? Oh yes, we chose to build a base instead of using the feetsies. This required many hours at HD buying the straightest wood (make your own joke there, people). And then we spent a ton of time measuring, and measuring again. Then Hubbs would go outside to cut and I would measure once more, just for good measure (HA! A pun!). Then we brought the bases into the kitchen and got our shimmy on. Our floor isn't 100% level, but those cabinets will be, so we used shims to bring the bases to level. And we used our handy dandy levels, all three of them, to check obsessively that they would be level.

Is the bubble in the middle?

Another really nice thing about building your own bases is that you can customize the height of the cabinets. Hubbs is pretty tall, so having taller cabinets is a huge plus. Not having to pay for custom taller cabinets is an even bigger plus!
See all the shims?

Since we finally picked out counter tops, we will have all the cabinets installed by this Friday so they can make a laser mock-up of what we need to get. That leaves us ready for tile this weekend. My, we are moving quickly now.

And on the menagerie front; Hubbs found this gigantic spider in his laptop bag. I've used a pen for scale.
Please don't eat me!
In my opinion, spiders shouldn't have eyes that reflect light. Creepy.  No worries, we put him outside to help control the skeeter population.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Day 281- Well, lookie there

It was a long week of assembling, gluing and in one case, disassembling. In total we purchased 9 cabinets and it took a full week to get them together. Some of the cool things about Ikea is that we were able to purchase lazy susans to fill the space. Now we have less dead space and more storage. We don't have any normal lower cabinets, actually. More on all that later. 

We did get the wall cabinets in and my are they pretty. Ikea also has this cool system where you hang a metal strip on the wall and then hang the cabs from that strip. Easy peasy, right? Well, yes, except our brand new drywalls aren't completely level so it required some tinkering.

Three down
As you can see in this picture there is at least one level in the room. If I'm being really honest, I will tell you that hanging the cabinets required three levels. A four foot, a rocket and laser level. That laser level was hanging out in the pantry on top of the sugar jar. It has a sweet tooth. You'll also note, because we are really cool, that we have the directions stapled to the wall. We were worried that we would miss a step. 

Wait, let me make sure they are level again
At this point, the Hubbs looked over at me (I was on the floor assembling yet another box) and asked what we were missing. To which I responded "base cabinets, paint, tile, trim, a sink....". But his point was, all the sudden our kitchen was starting to look like a functional kitchen again. And what I thought was the laser level blinding me was really the light at the end of the tunnel. That's right, I'm going to cook something in this house soon. BRING IT ON PAULA DEEN!! And I might get to do dishes in a sink! Not a bathtub, a real honest to goodness sink. 
There we are, three cabinets down, 6 more to go. But we didn't stop there, oh now. We hung to more. Thanks levels!! Those five cabinets are within 1/16 of an inch from each other. They are nothing if not precise. I say: the floor is sloping, but my cabinets are straight!

Uppers. Up. Ers
Oh, and I think that we will have a functioning kitchen in 2 weeks. Saaaaweet!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Day 278- Man walks into Ikea.... Leaves with kitchen.

It's pretty happenin' over here in Maryland. 9:30 on a Friday night and we are still assembling cabinets. Woot.

We are assembling cabinets still, simply because we left Ikea with 71 boxes. 71. Those boxes represent our entire shelving and sink covered in lovely cardboard. Generally, I'm pretty psyched about the lack of plastic. The only thing that we bought that was disposable plastic were the baggies all the hardware came in! We've been sending lots to the recycling plant, because we have 71 boxes worth of cardboard. Good thing trash comes twice a week.

The haul
After all our plumbing/electrical/insulation/ drywall extravaganzas we finally made it out to the big blue and yellow store. This was our third trip to the store. Once to just wander and browse, once to really look at the cabinets for pricing (at that time we got to use the CAD software Ikea makes free to everyone, really cool stuff. Someone smarter than I could probably show you the design, but I can't figure it out), and the last time we went in for the kill.

Going in for the kill took 3 weeks of intense cabinet selection deliberation. We went to Lowe's, Home Depot, and a independent place. My dad even asked his guy in CA if we could get them at discount. But Ikea gave us:

1) The best bang for the buck
2) More configurations and options for our space
3) A 25 year warranty

I would love to have solid wood cabinets, but it just wasn't in the cards.

ANYway, in terms of time spent at Ikea; let's just say we are more like crocodiles killing a wildebeest than a cheetah taking down a gazelle. Between ordering cabinets, wandering the "as is" section and waiting for our 71 boxes, we spent 4 hours at the land of blue and yellow. And I didn't even get meatballs.

Getting ready to haul the haul

Yes, I make that face in most pictures. I'm either really cool or mostly awkward. I will let you decide.

Once the boxes were safely ensconced in the house we got to assembling. Turns out that I am slower, but slightly better at following directions then the Hubbs.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Day 277- Itchy scratchy

Now that we are plumbed and wired, it time for some walls. I know, more walls. I'm one of those strange people that enjoys walls on all sides. So there you go.

So Saturday morning, our kitchen looked like this:

Kitchen part of the room

Where the breakfast nook will live

Prior to adding drywall, I hung the rest of the insulation and had a grand ol' time with the spray foam. As I've mentioned 700 once or twice, there was a problem with mice. So we spray foamed the crap out of any entrance to the kitchen from below. It was really fun in a "I like baking soda and vinegar volcanoes" kind of way. 

Also in my infinite wisdom, I chose to wear crocs while hanging insulation. Crocs with holes on top.

I would not recommend doing this again, as the fibers from insulation will get into your shoes and make your feet itch for days on end. So needless to day, I was doing a strange little tap dance while hanging drywall for the day. And the even better part is that I was wearing them yesterday while working on the floor and my feet still itched when I went to bed. My crocs are getting a bath. I would show you pictures of me hanging drywall and insulation, but my husband thought it would be hysterical to enlarge the already ripped hole in my work pants. Instead of changing, I used knee pads to keep my pants around my leg. Again, classiest lady ever. Right here. 

Then we hung the mold resistant drywall (because there will be a sink, dontcha know) and we are ready for cabinets!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Day 275- On or off? On or Off?

Hot on the heels of our plumbing extravaganza, we had the electrician come and get us all wired and up to code (extra points if you got my lame pun). The Hubbs and I figured if we have the walls open already, lets go ahead and get under cabinet lighting run to a light switch. Because, obviously, that's classier then using up wall sockets, I mean c'mon. But I digress. There are many things that I am comfortable doing and using my good friend Google to figure out; running wiring off a light switch isn't one of them. We also had some wires just sticking out of the wall, where the microwave/hood/ 1960s over stove monstrosity was previously. My apologies, I don't have any pictures of the stove before we bought the house, it was removed as a part of negotiations prior to closing. So we needed to figure that out as well. Oh, and there was the little light switch debate as well.

For those of you who don't want to read that wall-o-text

1) Run wire to a light switch for under cabinet lights
2) Rerun vent hood/built in microwave line
3) Move the silly light switch

Friday, the electrician arrives and informs me that:

1) We can run this no problem, but since we are going to use LED lights, we have to run a driver to fix the voltage
2) The microwave needs it's own circuit, but we are getting some beefy plug additions to the kitchen too.
3) We have to pull more walls down to get the light switch moved.

Let's talk about this light switch for a moment. There are two lights in our kitchen, one switch is by the side more that was painted shut and required 200lbs of force to open. The other was by the side room that was a sunroom.

In other words, we would have to walk way to the corners of the room to turn on kitchen lights. This is annoying. Again, we have walls open and this is about making the kitchen work for us, so we are moving the switch! So we added one to the entrance by the dining room. Which is where the main flow from the house into the kitchen will come from.

So in short; we are up to code, will be well illuminated and can easily command the power of electricity from a more convenient entrance.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Day 274- Hold onto your butts

We bought the house 2 months ago. We haven't had a kitchen since. We have, however, had mice, a snake, crickets, skeeters, stink bugs and two trips to urgent care. The Hubbs and I have been working on the house by ourselves, with a little help from my Dad and lots of support from family. In this time, we've had little obvious progress, yes we knew what work had been done, but if a stranger came by it just looked a mess. This all changed this past weekend. Within three days we went from a big empty room with a wall still open to a enclosed space with upper cabinets installed. Hooooooly crap!

So this week I will be bringing updates for each of the little things we've done over the previous week. I warn you, it's gone from "oh we ripped up MDF for 12 hours" to "we insulated, drywalled, taped, assembled and hung cabinets".

So as I said. Hold onto your butts, it's about to get serious up in here!


When we bought the house, we knew that there was some water getting into the basement. There were three suspects in the matter:

1) The foundation was leaking
2) The kitchen sink pipe was leaking
3) The gutters were so full that water was running into the basement instead of down the downspout

And the winner is................

The kitchen sink! The Hubbs was in the basement doing something when I was running water in the old sink, and he could hear it running out in the basement. So he ripped open the walls and found this:

That looks nice and solid

Yes, that is a hole in the pipe that rusted out. That's gotta go. But we weren't in a hurry. We have a bathtub to wash dishes!

Now that we are further in the reno, we decided it was time. Time to fix the pipes. Since we forced the seller to give us a home warranty, I just popped online and reported a plumbing problem. Two days later we had a plumber out and got the follow news;

1) The whole pipe is corrugated steel and likely  is rusted shut (think of arteries and cholesterol)

Guess how AWESOME the basement smelled. Just guess!

2) Whoever did the last fix, likely because the pipe is rusted shut, didn't tie the PVC into the air vent, meaning not only do we have a 2 inch pipe closed to .5 inches, we there's no suction to help.

3) The PVC portion of the pipe isn't on a downward slope and is full of water and old food stuff. Um, delicious?

4) All of the steel piping has to come out for a proper fix.

Luckily, our plumber is awesome and got all but $120 covered by the warranty. Thanks John! So on Friday he was out replacing all the pipes and running lines so that our kitchen sink would drain like a dream.

So we went from this:

See the multiple pipes and danglies?

To this:

Down to one pipe

And no danglies!
Oh, and we removed the extra weird pipe that was sticking out of the wall. But that was all Hubbs and his Sawsall. Gotta love a handy man!

Now that water is going to FLY through those pipes. Step one DONE.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Day 268 - To the window. To the WALL

Walls. I has them. Sort of.

When I last left you, we had just gotten the dryer to vent outside. Then I was taken over by the urge to wash the pile of clothes that had accumulated everywhere in the house. This project took a whole week. And there is another pile waiting to be washed and dried. Almost like the clean laundry is mocking me.  But I digress.

This weekend we had the big things happen:

1) We finished cement boarding the kitchen floor- Now it's ready for tile.
2) A paint color for the walls has been chosen. We think. I have several patches around the room that we are still trying on. But we are on day three and I still think it's the one!
3) We started to hang drywall.

But Carrie, you ask; why do you need to hang drywall?


It's certainly a look
All of this lovely tin tile back splash was adhered with mastic. Which means we couldn't scrape it off and try again with tile and thin set. 

And this:
I don't need poop in my walls
 When we were working on the plumbing, I kept catching the delicate aroma of urine, and as it turns out, we found the other mouse nest. This is 4 inches from the ceiling, and they had tunnelled up through the insulation to the nest. So all the insulation and thin plywood came down so we could bleach and mitigate the problem. (As an FYI, I stuffed steel wool into all the available openings in the floor and near the pipes. Knock on wood, I haven't seen new droppings since. But it's getting to be winter time.)

Here I am, working on the house. The Hubbs thinks it's hysterical when I have all the gear on. Safety first!

Getting rid of the trim

don't forget the safety gear!

Down to studs. Again.
So now all the panelling is down and we are once again down to studs. But it's ok, because now we can air out the mouse nest and I sprayed bleach all over the walls to disinfect. It's much better now. This all happened before my Dad, the general contractor, came to visit. He took one look and told us to scrap all the old insulation. It wasn't R13 and wouldn't give us enough insulation in the winter, or summer for that matter. I don't recommend ripping down walls to add better insulation, but if they are down, why not? a 60 foot roll is $10 and will be worth it, so when in doubt... Pad it out. Sorry, that was lame. 

So while Will trimmed the last of the cement board, I started to instal our new, state of the art R13 insulation. Just me, my tape measure, razor and staple gun. Maybe I'm a total weirdo, but I had a lot of fun stapling away. Like this was MY wall to seal up. 

Once I was done with my insulating, I went back to the floor while Will trimmed the dry wall. We then scootched it up to the wall and drove it in place. And voila! One wall down, one more to go!

You may have noticed that we don't have seams taped yet, we are waiting on the other wall to go up and tape all at once. Plus, this will all be covered with cabinets and backsplash, so we aren't too worried!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day 261- The Sweet Smell of Laundry

I don't know about you, but I looooove the smell of clean laundry. Especially sheets. Confessions of a sheetaholic right there. Sadly, our house has been full of smells of molding MDF, snake musk and sometimes bacon, but it HASN'T smelled of laundry.

Today friend(s) - hey, I'm being optimistic- that all changes. As you learned in this post, we had a little issue with the dryer hose terminating in a void under some stairs. So we called in the big guns, otherwise known as my Dad. Dad was kind enough to fly alllll the way from California to help around the house, and he brought his hole saws with him. As a side note, my dad also attempted to carry on all these hole saws. This wasn't a good idea, as one might imagine. But onward!

No Sir, you may not carry those on
So this is how we blew a hole in the exterior of the house and vented the dryer outside.

First we figured out where the heck to make the exterior hole. We knew there was a void that was wood, we knew it was next to the exterior wall. But we didn't know how much concrete might be in the way. So after measuring and wandering up and down steps, we did the logical thing. We drilled a hole in the wall with a large bore drill bit, you know, to see where it came out.

Hey, go inside and tell me if you see the drill bit

Turns out there was no concrete in the way! Score one for us. 

Note the wood inside

From the inside
However, the stair support WAS in the way. Score 1 to the house. Hmmmm, we'll get back to that one. But not to be dissuaded, we carried on and put a four and quarter inch hole in the wall, and once the house was vented, we left and made a trip to Home Depot to find materials tame the laundry beast.


Expandable foam


True duct tape

By the time we got back, the Hubbs was chomping at the bit to get into this laundry action, so I became superfluous and fetched tools as the men needed them. At this point Dad decided that the portion of the step was supported well enough and we just drilled through that wood too. Now we have a nice clear space of the flexihose.  The cage was inserted outside, to keep all the cave crickets, spiders, skeeters and mice out of the vent. Birds too. Damn nesting birds.

Then we taped that bad boy to the flexihose and taped THAT bad boy to the existing hose that was nailed to the joists and just wasn't coming out.

How YOU doin'?
Now for the moment of truth, we moved the dryer into the room, hooked it up, plugged it in and..... IT WORKS. SWEET BABY JESUS, IT WORKS AND IT'S HOT... oh, there might be some crap in the hose, but who cares? I can dry clothes without fear of a house fire! There was a little air leakage that we couldn't get to with the tape, so it was spray foam to the rescue.We also foamed behind the siding and under the cage to discourage pests from even thinking of entering.  When in doubt, spray foam it out!

Nothing a little spray foam can't fix

At this point, I had to go to work, and let's be honest, they didn't need me anymore. So I went to bring home the bacon, and the men folk went to work on the washer. Turns out that we needed new hoses, but by the time I got home we had lift off. Needless to say, I've been washing clothes slowly but surely. I'm a little nervous of running the washer and dryer together, but so far I have clean sheets, towels and bathrugs. None have been eaten and they all smell wonderbar! The best gift of all is that doing laundry is also helping remove the musty house smell.

My lovelies
Here's the to do list in this room as of now:

1) Replace the sockets and painted over light switches
2) Switch hinges on dryer door
3) Close hole by vent pipe
4) Remove linoeum and MDF subfloor
5) Replace with hardibacker
6) Tile
7) Paint  (something cheerful)
8) Figure out storage
9) Replace basement door with a firedoor
8) Close entrance to foyer and create a closet

Oh and here's a cave cricket to give you nightmares. :)

Hello friends!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Day 260 - Progress, finally

As I've mentioned, we didn't want to demo the kitchen when we first moved in, we wound up doing the demo out of necessity. But we are finally making some progress:

- We've chosen a sink and cabinets
- The plumber (covered under home warranty, woot!) is coming to fix the hole in the pipe.
- Layout for the cabinets is going on the floor this weekend so we can begin to tile
- Replacement of insulation is going up this week

I haven't mentioned that we ripped out some wall covering while removing the upper cabinets. At the time it was too depressing to finally close the hole in the floor only to open up the walls, but that's what happened. It wound up being needed, as we found yet another mouse nest and entry site. So out with the old insulation in with the new ( I confess, the new is still sitting in a roll on the floor, but we have it!). In addition, we had our first cold snap this weekend, and realized that we should replace all the insulation with a better thickness type, hence our little daytime project.

You'll notice, no where on that list is a counter top selection. While we would love to throw some quartz on there and call it a day, our frugalness is getting the better of us. We could go buy some cheapie laminate, but that's an awful lot of plastic to buy all at once, so we went back to the drawing board.

And now we have an idea that will take care of two things:

1) It will provide the base for quartz when we get around to buying counter top
2) It's inexpensive <--- We are huge fans of inexpensive things!

That's right ladies and gentlemen, we are going to use plywood as counter top. Please note we will poly the crap out of the plywood and make a pretty design under the poly, but it should be ok. Keep your eyes peeled for our project in the (hopefully) near future!

PS- We got a laser level this weekend... Oh my, disaster.