Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Holy (tile) Grail

Here are some images from that page in case you don't want to make the extra clicks but are still vaguely interested:

And I thought I hated blue! Turns out not so much. It looks SOOOO awesome next to the floor tile. At least the ad looks awesome next to the floor tile. Now I just need to:
  1. Find someone in Austin who sells it
  2. Decide which of my organs I least need so I can sell it to buy this tile

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tile Porn

I'm kind of back to square one with the backsplash. I ordered the floor tile and that's super exciting! It should be here in about 3 weeks. Here's the outline for the center pattern, or as Jason commented "the crime scene where the drywall's body was found":
However, they gave me a 6x6" square of it to take home and now that I have it next to the Calacatta Gold and the classic white Subway tiles it doesn't seem to go with either.

So the search for backsplash tile continues.

I am loving my kitchen! Sometimes I just turn on all the undercabinet and in-cabinet lights, leave the room, then go back in just so I can get the full effect. I compulsively rinse my sink and wipe the countertops because they're just too pretty to leave them anything less than perfect.

I painted it a really warm taupe:
Unfortunately I can't just paint a tiny section and accurately judge if I'll like it, so I painted it 4 times before I settled on that color. Luckily for me it's a small kitchen. Of course then it didn't really go with the butter yellow walls in the dining and living room, so I had to paint them too. Now I think maybe I need to reupholster my couch because it doesn't quite go with the walls. That's the unforeseen cost of painting.

p.s. Check out the water running from my awesome faucet into my even more awesome (as if that's possible) sink:

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Beginning of the end: Remodel Day 16

Today was a HUGE day: the granite was installed! I am ridiculously happy! I took for granted how much easier life is when you've got a big flat surface to work with in the kitchen. For instance, you can:
  • Put your groceries on it when you get home from the store
  • Prepare your cat's medication on it
  • Set things on it before putting said things away in your new cabinets
You can also put a bowl with fruit on it, so I did:
It's SO beautiful! Here's the full view:
Contrary to appearances the faucet isn't installed. The granite wasn't in place until around 4pm, so the plumber will come tomorrow. Eric is coming in the morning to wrap up miscellaneous cabinet work and then they're out!
Aside from this it was two steps forward and one step back with my other efforts today. I went to pick up the glass for the cabinets and figured out I was able to install them on my own (yay!), but two of the four panels were too wide by about 1/8" so I took them back. Hopefully they'll be ready tomorrow. I made two futile trips to two different Home Depots last night, but after waiting patiently for about an hour this morning I was able to order the additional cabinet knobs. It will likely be a week before they're in, however.

I've narrowed my tile quest down, which is a relief. I'm looking at Calacatta Gold marble in a honed finish, with this pattern:
(I laid it out on the floor and if you squint it looks better. And minus the bottom row of 3x6 tiles, I got overzealous.) My inspiration was this pattern posted on the TileTramp's website:
It's either the marble or plain white subway tiles. I love them because they're so classic (and they're already used in my bath so there's some continuity there), but I'm afraid the solid black countertops and solid white backsplash might look too 50s. Or just boring.

Regardless, now that the countertops are in I can stop guessing about how many rows of each size tile I'll need and actually draw it out on the backerboard. That ought to keep me busy for at least a week, and then I can order tile with confidence.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Let there be light! or Remodel: End of Day 12

Yesterday a lot of finishing work was done on the cabinets, including placing the sink. It isn't really set in place permanently, but it's ready for the granite installation and that's when it will get done.

The guys also reconnected my stove so I could actually start cooking again! (Although I can't wash any dishes I dirty...but it's still progress.)

Today they working on evening out the floor so I can tile someday, and a little more cabinet finishing including the knobs. I love the knobs.

The electrician also came, and this thrills me beyond words: my undercabinet and in-cabinet lighting! It's beautiful!!
Here's another view (no flash):
It's going to look amazing when I finally tile the backsplash! And speaking of that, I've narrowed it down to rectangular-shaped tiles. I think. I'm looking at Calacatta Gold marble OR porcelain subway tiles like in the bathroom.
I love the marble, but I'm not sure it really fits with the house. And in pictures it just seems to look dirty unless it's a solid slab. Case in point here.

My goal is to have the tile in my inexperienced hands by next Thursday to start tiling. I've given myself a decision deadline of tomorrow evening!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Remodel: End of Day 5, aka "Heaven"

Maybe it's because the kitchen is mostly white right now, or maybe it's because the cabinets are all installed...okay, it's because the cabinets are all installed.

Pat brought in his cabinetmaker today - I guess when you make them by hand you know a thing or two about installing someone else's! Very knowledgeable guy, I'm sure his custom-made cabinets rock.

I can't even find the words to express how happy I am! There's still along way to go, and the only other work that will likely happen this week will be measuring for the granite, but this is HUGE for me. Now I have proof that this is going to end and I'll someday have a kitchen again. And a nice one at that!

Insert sigh of relief here.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Remodel: End of Day 4?

At least I think it's ended? I had to take a call for work so I went into my bedroom, and when I came out all the guys were gone and the kitchen lights were out. All their tools are here so I guess they're coming back, although I wouldn't blame them if they didn't: today was a lot of time without a lot of (obvious) progress.

They alternated between trying to figure out how all the different items in the Home Depot boxes fit together and where they go, and trying to get the base cabinets level. I suspect both were equally frustrating for them - I'd have quit a long time ago. (Every day of this project I wonder what on earth ever possessed me to think Jason and I could do this on our own.)

Oh and I'm forgetting the sink! They spent a little time there too: A) it's heavy, B) they'll have to cut a hole (but not too big) in the cabinet that it rests on/in, and C) they'll have to built a support to hold it up (refer back to A). I've heard it called an Apron front or a Farmer's sink, but apparently it's just a big ceramic bowl and not at all what they're worked with before. Learning opportunities for everyone! I found a link to installing one on the DIY network and gave it to them on my iPad for reference. ;-) If all goes well (and I'm sure it will) it will look something like this:
They never sounded frustrated - Pat (the owner) seems to be very patient and his crew are too. I just can't imagine they thought they'd spend so much time with so little to show for it:
I shouldn't make it sound like they accomplished nothing: I think leveling those base cabinets was a HUGE accomplishment. Yay for old houses....

I personally accomplished big stuff before they got here: last night I primed the areas that had been textured after re-floating/taping, and this morning I painted the kitchen ceiling! I can't brag too much: it's a tiny ceiling. Tonight I need to paint the walls. I'm thinking about something other than yellow but I don't know what, so for now I'll just go back to yellow and then I can re-evaluate later. I love painting my walls: any monkey can do it, including this one, and it has such a huge impact!

Hopefully tomorrow things will move faster for them. As for me I kind of got my wish: they unpacked enough cabinets that I don't have to squeeeeeze past them to get into the dining room. I only have to turn sideways a bit. :-)

Remodel: Start of Day 4

I skipped Friday's post - there was a little floating and taping and that was all, so nothing to blog home about. I realized at the end of the day that we (I?) had forgotten cement board on an entire wall - the one next to the stove. [My plan has been to tile up to the doorway on both the stove side and the sink side because there's always something splattering on the paint and it's gross. ]

I emailed Pat a photo and told him, and he was great, he said that they'd take care of it today! I apologized profusely because I honestly don't remember if I told him or Eric about it. All these guys have been great, I'm really glad I went with them.

Saturday was a Quest for Backsplash Tile. I've been looking online and I love either a Honey Onyx or something marble, like a Crema Marfil. I ordered some samples online of each, but in the meantime I cruised Austin's "Tile Mile". (That's a bunch of tile stores on Rutland Drive.) I saw some amazing tiles. My goal is to match this:
It's called Pavone (Macchiato is this stained version) from the Intaglio Collection, and it's from a store called Alkusari Stone here in town. I was at their store looking at granite slabs, and this tile was down in their foyer. It was love at first sight!

I love how it looks like a carpet (but isn't). Since there's no room for an island the middle of the kitchen floor has always looked sort of bare to me. This will fill it in beautifully, I think!

This is the link to their product guide - they're all amazing. So now the challenge is to find tile for the backsplash that isn't going to compete OR look blah by comparison.

Sunday was 8 hours of back (and arm) breaking work: I broke down the old cabinets and pulled out all the nails so they could be hauled off in the neighborhood bulk pickup. The cabinets been sitting just inside my fence since Jason took them down in January. It looked really ghetto/white trash so I was glad to see them go, but hands hurt, my butt hurts (from sitting on the concrete carport floor) and I almost got stung by wasps who'd built a nest on the backside of a cabinet. I finally finished up around 9pm last night. I was going to take a picture today because it was an impressive stack of stuff, but they took it away first thing at 7am! It's like they were never here...except for the big patch of dead grass underneath them. Maybe I should take a picture of THAT as proof!

The guys are here now preparing to hang the cabinets! I can't wait to see my dining room floor again - I'm so tired of squeezing past boxes. If all goes well the official granite countertop measurements can be taken tomorrow! More later!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Remodel: End of Day 2

The guys put up the cement board today. The best part: they framed my my niche!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Remodel: End of Day 1

Sections of the existing drywall were cut out, either because it was damaged or to be replaced with cement board so I can tile the backsplash.
The plumbing vent was rerouted to allow a niche to be put in above where the new sink will go.
My contractor pointed out that the exterior wall had no insulation, which explains a lot about my heating and cooling bills. It might not be much but every little bit helps!
A tremendous amount of time was spent making the walls plumb so the cabinets could be securely affixed.
Then the electrician came and put in the new wiring! I'm ridiculously excited at the prospect of undercabinet lighting!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Kitchen demo

I ordered new cabinets from Home Depot in early November, and they arrived in mid-January. Jason took on demo'ing the old cabinets.
We took all of them down except for the base cabinets against the inside wall, which it turns out is all I ever needed because it had a sink, a stove and a dishwasher. I learned over the course of the last 5 months how little one really requires from a kitchen!
But it got old living that way, with boxes of dishware in the spare bedroom and boxes of cabinets stacked up in the dining room and kitchen.

Monday, June 13, 2011

We interrupt your regularly scheduled program

Tomorrow my kitchen remodel begins, so I wanted to post some pictures of what it looked like before, during and after.

Without further ado, here's the before!

Jason and I attempted to refinish the kitchen cabinets ourselves. We sanded and painted the entire window side cabinets and were going to make new doors. When we tried to sand the inside cabinets we learned that there was really nothing to save, they were just trash.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Don't garden with your mouth open

There's no great story there, just something I learned the hard way and thought I should share.

I figured I should post pictures of the garden before it all dies, which is seriously any day now. If we could just get rain ONCE A MONTH my garden would be soooo happy! I don't mean "spit-like moisture for 10 minutes", I mean a good soaking that lasts for a few hours. Yeah sure, it will flood the rest of Austin because of our poor drainage systems but I'm beyond caring now. I'm pretty sure everyone else is too.

Check out the Pachys - they got huge!

I extended two of the oldest beds. I figured it was an opportunity to plant more stuff, and the grass was still pretty dead-ish from last year's drought (this year clearly doesn't look promising either). I think it makes the garden more interesting - there's more swoopiness now. And for once, I bought very few new plants: instead I re-purposed plants from other places in the yard.

For this bed I stole some of my Bearded Iris and Catmint.

I think this is my favorite new bed:

Extending the bed seems to take some of the ridiculousness out of the Madame Berkley rose's size. That's what I tell myself, anyway.

I bought a Salvia Clevelandii (stinks so good!), 3 Nikki Phlox, and a fantastic blue palm from Peckerwood Gardens that can handle shade. (I saw it with my own eyes, it's true.)

Then I re-purposed 2 Bush Germander Azure, some Canna Pretoria, and an Artemesia.

Oh! And I bought a Rootbeer plant, which neither looks nor tastes like rootbeer but has really cool swirly leaves.

Not bad, eh? (Don't hold the bad photography against my garden.)

I managed to grow one Zucchini and one Yellow Squash before both plants died.
I did have success with one of my three tomato plants, however! I love them - none of them are tart or acidic like the store-bought ones, they just taste great! I'm going to buy more next year for sure.

My next garden post will likely be of the carnage after this summer.