The kitchen en route

Oh my gosh, we are SO close! The electrician is here as I type, furiously demolishing the octopus of wires that carries from the basement through the kitchen and every other nook and cranny of our home. Did I tell you we are a getting an upgrade to the main panel? Apparently a necessity for a modern kitchen in a 1922 house. At first I was bummed, you know, on account of it costs a lot of money, but now I'm kind of psyched. It's a clean slate for our little bungalow, a pure cleansing.

Once the electrician is done roughing in, we wait for inspections (which I anticipate being a breeze, yes I do). Know what comes next? Insulation followed by sheetrock, then FLOORS, then cabinets, then final electric and then, only a year in the making... our finished kitchen. Oh. what. bliss.

As such, I figure now is a great time to fill you in on what exactly are the plans for this most important space. It's all mapped out, purchased and piled high in the dining room. We are going with an Ikea kitchen, as so many in our demographic seem to do. Why is that? Well for me, not only is price appealing, but I appreciate being able to design my kitchen online, in my own time, with no pressure and no one breathing down my neck. I've read so many good reviews of the cabinets themselves, seen them used on Sarah's House and the like, and that gave me confidence in the quality. I love the hardware, storage options and most important, the look. It's a win win.

The goal is to achieve an affordable, stylish, out-of-the-box kitchen then disguise its mass production with use of memorable details. I spent a lot of time prowling design blogs and local real estate listings, looking for inspiration and for what's hot in my area. I'm also relying heavily on my design gut. My mood board:

1. Lighting
A single pendant for over the sink and two flush mounts for the ceiling, all hard-wired fluorescent. Purchased from Schoolhouse Electric and delivered Christmas Eve.

2. Backsplash
This is my dream, part of the new Dwell patterns from Heath Ceramics. We will be saving up for this. I love that Heath is a local resource and want very much to support that.

3. Countertop
We went with a Caesarstone countertop purchased through Ikea as part of their annual sale. The color we chose is called Raven. My dream was soapstone, funny how having a baby changes your priorities. But I think this look is similar. 

4. Wall color
I'm hoping to find the perfect shade of celery, with a hint of yellow. I had this in a kitchen in San Diego and loved it. It felt so fresh and went well with some of my retro accessories.

5. Cabinets
A white kitchen has been on my wish list for years, so Lidingo was a no-brainer. We will have a small bank of glass uppers above the dishwasher and the rest is solid.

6. Hardware
I'm not 100% on these, but it's a good option for now, it's the Lansa.

7. Flooring
Most excited about this! I've wanted wood floors all along and feared they were out of budget's reach. We did a little shopping around and were THIS close to buying up some clearance wood at Lumber Liquidators. Luckily, I mentioned this to one of my clients who talked me out of it. He had a floor guy and suggested I call him first. His name is Mario and he came over and offered up solid white oak at 2 1/4" wide, to be stained and sealed onsite with no-VOC poly, perfect for this pregnant lady. Not only will this blend well with the exisiting wood floors throughout, but it's quality. And surprisingly not that much more. Lesson learned, don't jump the gun!

8. Faucet
We have already purchased the Ringskar faucet and so far so good.

9. Sink
I hoped to find a non-Ikea farmhouse sink but the price of the Domsjo can not be beat. This sink is huge, we've actually been using it for months and I found I love it.

And now the floorplan. After we took down a wall, the final kitchen space is 12x18, minus a bump-in from a closet in the dining room, which the below does not show. Also I screwed up the size of that window above the sink, it is not squat like that:

This is the view from the back of the kitchen. The door and window in the front open up to the back addition and the two doors on the far wall go to the hallway and the dining room. I love the full pantries we are getting in either side of the fridge, both with pull-out drawers. That's a lot of storage, especially with a baby on the way! I plan to put my tulip knock-off in the corner under that window, kitty bowls to the left of the fridge.
I'm quite excited about that bank of glass-front uppers. It's an excuse for new dishes and the perfect outlet for my anal-retentive tendencies. The floor boards will actually go the other direction. The Ikea Planner is good, but not THAT good! See that strip of birch color in the corner? Drives me nuts.

We've been slowly scoring appliances from Sears for a while now. I like Black Friday and we got our Kenmore stove that way, it's stainless of course. The coordinating microwave, which will slide above the stove is from the outlet. I hope to get a fridge from there too, but am holding off until we have a place to put it! I received a used Bosch dishwasher from a carpenter friend who pulled it out of a house in Palo Alto. Apparently, the owners wanted one with hidden buttons so they replaced this practically new gem. Sweet!

And there you have it, our kitchen in a nutshell. I'm hoping this is done by the end of January. If I type it, will it come true? What I'm learning, or trying to learn during this reno process is that this stuff takes time, planning and patience. I'm proud of us for saving our pennies until we can afford a project, instead of jumping into a huge pile of debt. Yes, that means it takes longer, but when it's over, you own it. That's equity baby.

So while I while away the days our electric, drywall and flooring guys need to complete their tasks, these boxes are a welcome sight I don't mind tripping over or eating take-out on... the official countdown begins.


It may not be pretty

In the late winter of 2010, a young and naive couple stripped their basement of everything it had. It was a glorious time of destruction and promise. Alas, focus turned to spring and what could be had out of doors. The basement sat abandoned and alone, until the following winter rains forced the happy couple back inside.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, what is this some sort of fairy tale? Not in the least. This is reality and when those rains came, we were forced back to earth, with a loud and unforgiving thud. We stood up, wiped the dust off our pants and gave the basement, among other places, a solid look. It's now or never, honey.

Starting with those concrete walls. You might remember that when we removed the framed walls of the former, ahem, apartment, we found a good foot or so of dust which had crumbled from the surface of our 90-year old foundation. Multiple contractors had assured us this was purely cosmetic, that the parge coat had simply flaked off over time, as they are inclined to do. If it bothered us, we could resurface the walls ourselves. By the way, we feel confident that the foundation is indeed intact. We get no water down here, even with these heavy rains. Phew!

Of course, the pimply, moon-like surface of our walls did bother us. Especially since this basement is going to be Mike's studio. Maybe you haven't heard, but my husband lives in his studio, day and night. Even in our tiniest apartment, he holed up in that closet of a studio like a little hermit crab. I would like him to like it down there. This basement also houses our new, awesome laundry room (to be revealed at a later date, it is not ready for its closeup). So I would also like to like it down here.

Let's begin. I started my research of how-to with the internet, which of course made it look SO EASY, little did we know.

Supplies and tools
Quickrete's Quikwall Surface Bonding Cement, bags and bags
Water for mixing
Water bottle for keeping walls wet
Mixing tub
Various trowels
Cardboard to protect the floor

Being pregnant, I wasn't allowed downstairs during this dusty process. So really, Mike should probably be writing this. But through all the cussing, I think I managed to decipher the gist of resurfacing the moon, I mean, our basement walls. First off, it's messy! Second, finding the perfect consistency for the mixture takes some trial and error. And third, application takes longer than you think and is really hard on your wrists, which may require a massage once complete.

{The sludge all ready to go.}

The process is pretty much what you might imagine. Spray walls with water as you go, to aid adhesion. Load up trowel with mixture and push into wall, being sure to fill all crevices, then attempt to spread and smooth. Do this 8 million times until complete. Don't start a wall you can't finish that day, work all the way to a corner before you stop. This is also for adhesion. Adhesion is number one! Keep wall moist by spritzing frequently and allow to dry slowly, over quite a few days. We did this by spraying water on it every day and lucking out that we are in a basement that gets no sun. If the wall dries too quickly, it will crack and crumble making all this hard work null and void.

{West wall before. Yes, that is our tankless water heater that we LOVE.}

{West wall during}

 {West wall after. Oh look, it's Roosevelt! That explains the dusty pawprints...}

Now take a good look at this after. See the ledge and how it's wavy? This is nearly unavoidable, kids. Mike is a tedious, detail-oriented worker and he struggled to get even this amount of a straight line. Of course, he is currently being driven to madness due to this imperfection, there MUST be a solution! I happen to think the walls look amazing.

{South wall detail}

{South wall almost complete!}

I do apologize for the dark photos. As you can imagine, it's hard to get a decent shot with that kind of lighting. And um, don't mind about all those wires you see hanging everywhere! We are on it, electrician starts right after the holidays, permits and all. Once all the walls were smooth and allowed to dry over a week or so, Mike gave everything a coat of Drylock, for the heck of it really. That was followed by some nice, white, no-VOC, satin paint. We are far from finished down here, but this is quite the improvement. I think it calls for victory!


Back from hibernation

So I woke up at an ungodly hour this morning. What was it, 5:30? I laid in bed, pathetically tried to recapture some sleep, ultimately gave up. Still dark, I stumbled up and out, WOKE UP the cats to eat their shared can of chickens then poured myself a bowl of cereal. I flipped on my screen and thought, oh crap, I have a blog and haven't touched it in over 3 months!

How does one explain such a hiatus? Well, it's pretty simple, possibly even obvious. There's a baby going on over here, as in, we are pregnant! This is probably, no definitely, the most exciting thing that's ever happened to me (us). Even more so than buying a house, sorry house. I'm a ridiculous planner and having a baby has been on the agenda for quite some time. Sure, I figured we would have a kitchen... oh I don't know, maybe the basement wouldn't be a tangled mess of electricity, but sometimes it just doesn't work out like that. And here we are. Oh and this baby is a girl, she's due on Easter. And for the first three months, she kind of kicked my ass.

But today, even though I woke up crazy early, I slept great (thanks to my Snoogle and thanks to sweet Kate for providing me such Snoogle). And I feel great! And I'm a woman on a mission! We have big plans for big projects, and that includes updating this here blog. We haven't completely abandoned our home these last few months, er, at least Mike hasn't, I've been a real bump-on-a-log. He made good progress which I will document shortly. On the horizon:

Cabinets and counters have been ordered. Electrician is contracted and booked. Meeting with drywallers next week. Lighting and appliances to be purchased and flooring chosen.

basement studio
Again, electrician on board, drywaller on deck. Then paint the floors, give it a good scrub and Mike moves his whole art operation down there.

baby's room!
Need to clear out the "library," start thinking about furniture and decor. This is most exciting!

The list goes on and on... but this is a good start, no? During all these "big picture" renos, we also have one million + two littles. Such as today, I plan to finally paint the living room. No worries, no-VOCs over here!