The Best of 2013

Pretty much a year ago today I started this groovy little blog. A whole lotta home improvements later, I thought it would be fun to do a best of collection for 2013. Hold your pants, America, cause there were some pretty epic transformations going down in this place.

Best DIY Projects of 2013

You betcha. We’ve been busy little beavers. Here is a recap of the year’s most popular posts.

Kitchen Renovation

It was one hairy beast, but our kitchen is finally in a non-renovation stage (unless you count me trying to cook something) 😉 We said goodbye to our light oak cabinets (and a wall) and hello to some brighter and whiter stunners! I think we’re both pretty smitten.

DIY Herringbone Backsplash

Bathroom Renovation

Our bathroom went from 80’s to oh la la when we added some sweet little details like our herringbone tile shower. We loved the pattern so much that we even popped the same style in for our kitchen backsplash.

Herringbone Subway Tile

Built-in Bookcase

Even though it’s got me on the hook for a new (larger) TV for the hubster, our built-in bookcase was a pretty big hit around here, too. Best part was, we paid a fraction of the price of a pre-fab (non-builtin) option, with the entire project coming in at just over $400.

DIY Built In Bookcase

Floor Refinishing

It was one of the more painful projects we’ve under taken to date, but the floor refinishing really made a big difference in our house. Overall, I’m really glad we tackled this one and stretched our DIYing wings to try something new.

How to Refinish Floors

Refinishing Furniture 

Sometimes a $20 thrift store find is pure magic. Since we started refinishing the old furniture we find, we’ve been able to turn some pretty beat up pieces of furniture into some pretty chic new (to us!) furniture. All for pennies on the dollar.

How to Refinish Wood Tables

Crown molding 

Fit for a King, our crown molding made a h-u-g-e difference in our kitchen. We went for the bulky thick stuff and I’ve got a mega soft spot for it. Lurrrvvee.

Installing Crown Molding

Basement Bathroom 

True to form, knowing me, if we were doing one bath you’d better bet I was going to do the other. (My poor husband) We laid down some 12″x12″ marble tiles and got things looking a bit more classy. Better than the kermit the frog walls we had rocking the place before 🙂

Northern Cliffs Bathroom

Attic Renovation

Granted, this one is DEFINITELY still in progress (drywall being installed as we speak!) but this attic is on it’s way to being what I think will be my favorite space in the house. From insulation to bathrooms, we’ve been busting this one out for the last few months, and we are ready to be donzo.

Framing Bathroom in Attic

Weed Killing 

Leave it to the powers of pinterest, but this weed killing post was the MOST POPULAR post of the year. Who knew that some dish soap and vinegar would be such a hit! 😀

Happy New Year, blog friends! Thanks SO MUCH for stopping by to read the blog, it’s always nice to have you!

Hello Herringbone!

See, the thing about me, I know what I like. That can lead to efficiencies. It can also lead to weekend long headaches for my dear, sweet husband. But in the end, I just can’t help that the good Lord made me one head strong, determined little lady 😉 Our kitchen was driving me batty, which turns me into bat woman, and bat woman is fierce. Like Sasha fierce, with a power tool. Be very afraid.

We had made some serious progress the past few days (i.e. here and here), but it was still very construction zone esq and I was ready as can be to have some lovely backsplash up so we could call this space good and done. Cue the headache for the hubby. Cause I knew what I wanted, and turns out, it’s a wee bit of a pain … Here is what the kitchen was looking like pre-backsplash. A little rough around the edges.

White Shaker Cabinets

Getting closer, with the cabinets and counters in, but still lacking some fundamental finishing details 🙂

Since we had already tackled this DIY project in the bathroom, I was mentally prepping him the week before that this was going to be e-asy. Walk in the park. Slice of pie. We can DO this, Jay! But, alas, each project has it’s own twists and turns, doesn’t it 😉 Before we get knee deep into this one, let’s get a good look at the before. Remember this kitchen?

Removing Kitchen Tile Backsplash

Unfortunately, it wasn’t really possible to repurpose the old tile, since we intended to wrap the pattern up around the window. Plus, the tile we had before had a green stripe through the middle we weren’t crazy about and it had a few spots where the tiles had been cut to fit cabinets before. Out to the trash pile it went.

Before we started laying the new pattern, we had some general housekeeping items to check off the list. Learning from past experiences, the smoother, and more consistent your wall is, the better your results will be. The last thing you want is a tile popping up because you didn’t prep the space properly. Although you can trouble shoot these areas to a certain extend as you go, it’s much easier to take care of them beforehand, when you don’t have a tile covered in mortar that you have to pop off. We just took a chisel and tapped away in areas that looked raised or particularly problematic.

How to prep wall for tile

To install the herringbone tile pattern, you want to essentially create the triangle shape below, over and over and over. You’ll see it in you’re sleep 😉 It’s best if you’re able to center the bottom triangle where you want the pattern to originate, we opted for directly behind the sink. Seemed like a good place to have the eye go to. Since we provided a step by step tutorial on herringbone install during our bathroom renovation post, here, I thought I’d focus a bit more on the unique challenges we came up against with this install for this post, which, unfortunately, were bountiful.

How to install herringbone tile pattern

Hard as you try, especially in an old house, there are going to be inconsistencies in your wall, leading to a pattern that doesn’t always match up the way you want it to. This was our first time wrapping around something (aka the window) where the tile had to match up on the other side. We kind of held our breath, and tried to be as meticulous as possible with each measurement, but much to our utter dismay, as we started to wrap around the window with the pattern, this happened.

See the difference in the gap! Eek! Panicked moments ensued.

Herringbone Tile Backsplash

Before we got to that point, we were just coming around the window, thinking that everything was peachy keen. Singing a song, bumbling along. As we inched closer and closer, it was pretty obvious that the space we had to fill, and the tiles we had to fill it, were not at all compatible. Freakity frack.

Installing Herringbone Tile

A la this photo. Oh. no. Do you see the gap there, not going to work Senor. It was about an inch. When you’re talking tile spacing, that is a lot. Never a good moment when you’ve been slaving for days. Oye.

Herringbone Tile Installation

Sadly, the only way to really fix it at this point, was to back track and remove a good chunk of the tiles from the wall. Whomp whomp. Our basic strategy was to come back through and kind of adjust the pattern by hand through sliding the tiles around so that the gap was at least a bit more spread out, vs. concentrated all in one place with one huge, 1 inch gap. Not the look we were going for.

It definitely wasn’t the perfect solution, but other than removing every single last tile, and starting from scratch, we kind of had to work with what we had. Plus, there was no guarantee that if we did that, that it would drastically improve our lot, given the possibility that an uneven wall surface or window surround (likely) were causing it. Obviously getting to this point in your install and having to turn around is a b-ummer.  But sometimes you just have to role with the punches, my friend.

Installing Herringbone Tile Backsplash

Overall, as we were finishing this wall, the side immediately to the right of the window was a bit of a problem child, but other than that, it was looking half decent. Half. Decent. Jay and I definitely notice it, but in all honesty, it really isn’t the end of the world, right?

Definitely a little more gap action than we’d normally go for, but by George, it was done. Plus, in an effort to minimize the glare of any of our mistakes, we opted to use a white grout, which will hopefully help those gap-a-rific areas, to be a bit less noticeable. Craft camouflage, following me?

Herringbone Subway Tile

For all the grief the sink side gave us, the backsplash behind the oven was a piece of cake. We worked together laying the tiles and in total, it took about an hour and a half. Wootie woooot!! I would slather up the tile and hand it off to Jay for placement, and help adjust each piece as we went. Cooperation makes it happen.

How to install subway tile

Before we knew it, we had this beautiful little backdrop, that was only in need of a few periphery cuts to get us donzo. Granted those take the longest, but we developed a pretty good rhythm by the end where Jay would measure and cut, while I would lay each tile in place.

Herringbone Tile Installation

With no obstacles, save the end of the pattern, we were able to get this side looking pretty swakified if I do say so myself. I pretty much want to kiss it every time I walk in the kitchen, bare minimum high five it. The grout lines feel a lot tighter on this side, which makes for a beautiful little backsplash. Since the space was so small behind the stove, it was pretty straight forward, and difficult to have enough deviation in the pattern that it would lead to a noticeable gap.

After a full weekend of slapping these tiles up, the hubster was one happy camper to smack that last bad boy on the wall. Done.

How to Install Subway Tile

Here is a sneak peak of how the oven side turned out. Fancy pantalones.

DIY Herringbone Backsplash

I gotta tell ya, this turned out beautiful once we added grout and sealed it. I’ll have all the after pictures in a kitchen reveal post, tomorrow, which will include a cost breakdown of how much this kitchen reno set us back. It’s going to be epic. 🙂

Check out lots of great other DIY projects over on Liz Marie’s Blog!

Liz Marie Blog

Reunited and it Feels So Good

Oh my kitchen. How I’ve longed for thee. Do I cook? Not a lick. Do I like it when my husband cooks for me? You bet your knickers I sure do. Also, I miss things like having a fridge that stores more than a gallon milk. Yes, we were using a 2 foot tall refrigerator for the past 2-weeks, and living in our basement as the floors get refinished. Oh, and did I mention that a 7 foot tall giant moved in with us? Yes, we don’t have a new pet dinosaur, we do have a new roommate. His name is Iain, and he is living with us for 5-weeks while he works on his Master’s at the U. What a student, what a guy. So anyway, we’ve all been camping out in the basement and storing all our worldly refrigerator items in a mini-mini fridge. Fail. Here, meet Iain.

New Roomie

So much more exciting than the addition of the giant roommate (sorry, Iain), is the addition of our new kitchen cabinets, and the addition of our appliances back in their gosh darn rightful location (hooked up, in the kitchen). Woo to the hoo. Here is a view of the room right after the installers wrapped up their day of work. Still needing a few things (appliances, backsplash, paint touch ups)… but golden mother of pearl, I think we can all agree it’s an upgrade from the empty room we’ve had for the last month.

White Kitchen With Shaker Cabinets

Literally the longest, and hardest part of installing the new appliances (GE Cafe Line) was getting the microwave oven in. Frickety frack. It took like 2-hours, and it was just tedious, to the max. Luckily the microwave came with a handy little template that gave us the play by play of how to get this guy in.

How to Install Wall Mounted Microwave

You literally just put this piece of paper right up against the bottom portion of the cabinets, and it told you exactly where to put each screw and drill each hole. I mean, come on, that is da bomb. Here is Jay, making some final adjustments before we popped in the new microwave. Even with all the hand holding, this step took us 2-hours, and lucky for us, we had an extra set of hands around with Iain, since this beast was heavy.

How to Install Microwave

After we got the microwave, and the rest of the appliances in for the evening, I had to go and take some beau-ti-ful after pictures of this joint. Let me preface that by saying we are missing the following: counters (obvi), hardware, backsplash, a sink, a dishwasher, touch-up paint and … I feel like I’m missing something else, so, we are probably also missing that mystery object. Ah yes – Crown!! We are planning on DIYing the crown over the next few weeks. Yippie skippie. Should be a wee bit easier with the new nail gun. 😉

This is a view of the wall with our range and the microwave. I dig it. We’ll be putting backsplash behind, and there will be counters for prep on either side of the oven.

GE Cafe Gas Range

And a vantage point of just the fridge, and the cabinets around it. The sink will be going in to the right of the cabinets base beside the fridge. Is it just me, or does the area right above the fridge look kind of gappy? I think I might have the hubster come back through and add a piece of trim there to tighten that up a bit.

White Shaker Diamond Cabinets

Oh, and as with any renovation, there were a few issues. Namely, the cabinet panel for the left side of the fridge was “defective” according the the cabinet installers, so we have to order another one that they will come and install in a few weeks. At least it’s just the edge of the fridge, so it should be pretty straight forward to pop that sucker in.

Here is a close up of the fridge, you can see the gap action a bit more from this angle.

GE Cafe French Door Fridge

Overall – I am pretty gosh darn happy with how the kitchen turned out. It’s still not there (we have to wait 3+ weeks for the counters still – UGGGHHH), but man alive, it feels good to have the full-size fridge back. Fun size just wasn’t cutting it.



Devil’s in the Details

If I could pick a crowing jewel, and personal favorite addition to our new space, it would hands down be the new french doors we have that lead off the dining room into the screened in porch. After we removed the wall (and patched it up), we felt like the best way to take the space to the next level was to pop in a big old door to make the area feel nice and easy breezy. The door was looking mighty spifirific, but as mentioned, it was a bit gappy and in dire need of some trim. After we added the insulation, it was time to pop up the trim and get crack-a-lackin. Here is a (bad) before shot of the interior of the french door sans trim.

  French Door Insalation

One of the first things we noticed, was that the trim did not want to stay in place, and that it was popping up at all sorts of random locations. After some sleuthing, we determined that the culprit was the shims, which were sticking out just enough to cause all kinds of problems.

Adding Trim to French Door

Once we trimmed down each of the problem locations, we came back through with our nail gun and popped a few strategically placed nails into the trim surround. This tool is absolutely amazing. It turned (hands down) a job that we both hated (albeit for different reasons), into a job that Jay smiles from ear to ear on and I manically laugh to.  We have different ways of showing our happiness around here 😉

Bostitch Air Compressor and Nail Gun

I HATED installing trim before, cause no matter how hard we tried, it would always get totally beat up and dented. Now, there are some reassuring noises (da-juunc, da-juunc) and we are done-zo. That’s the way I like it.

How to Install Trim Around Door

We had some concerns about each of the corners lining up right, but with some slight adjustments, all of the trim was cut and added up onto the wall. We had a few gaps, but as always, nothing that caulk could not fix. 😉

Thick Trim Around French Door

You can see in this picture that the the trim was 1) gap-a-licious and 2) pink. I guess in an effort to level the gender playing field, they’ve now made builder grade pink. Whatever the reasons, this trim (and door) were in need of some crisp, white paint. My favorite fix for any room.

Holes in French Door

One final detail that had to be dealt with prior to painting, was installing little nubs to conceal the million and one screws on this thing. Luckily our door came with a baggie full of these guys, but actually pushing them in there was a lot harder than we thought! We eventually resorted to using a spoon, which was the perfect fix. 🙂 After a coat of Benjamin Moore Simply White, we had this!

French Door Off Dining Room

Here is a shot from further away, so you can see how the entire room is looking as well (this is pre-floors, fyi).

French Doors Off Dining Room

For good measure, here is an up to date action shot of the entire room (door to the right in the picture). Did you notice we painted the room, too? It’s Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray. I love it.

Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray


Woody the Woodchuck

Turns out, when you remove a wall there is some patching to do on the flip side of the coin. Wall patching, floor patching, yep and yep. A la this little beaut. There is definitely a hole there 😉 With a matching gap on the other side. Twinsies.

How to patch wood floor
Patching Wood Floor

When we went shopping for the mudding materials, we came back with a few extra essentials. While we were shopping, I saw Jay start to slowly ebb toward the power tools section (never good). We were in the market for an air compressor and nail gun, and although I was *hoping* to find one on craigslist, we landed up getting a shiny new one instead.

Why you ask, well, because there was a crazy-licous Memorial Day sale where the nail gun compressor kit was marked down $100, meaning only $150 green backs had to be exchanged for this new power house. Overall, for the use we are going to get out of this beast, I’ll call that a good use of our simolions. So, Jay got his new tool, and in turn, I got Jay to do some projects around here the man had been dragging his feet on. All in the name of getting a new power tool – man – he knows how to manipulate 😉

Bostitch Air Compressor and Nail Gun
Bostitch Air Compressor

So, power tool in hand, we set off to remedy our little gap of a problem. We needed more wood to patch this baby up. Not a lot of wood, but turns out it’s hard to find little batches of red oak. We probably needed 4 square feet of wood, but we had to buy it in a 20sq foot bundle. Bummer. The good news, we now know we have ample wood in case things go screwy along the way. The bad, the wood came in over budget. In all honesty I’m kind of at the point where I’m sad if things go over budget, but I am also reaching my delirium point with this whole reno, where I just let Jay add things to the shopping cart, so we can just get the project done. I want my kitchen back, I want a dining room to eat dinner at, I want to not have an inch of dust covering my floor when I get up each morning. So $60 vs $20 right now, grumble grumble, whatever.

How to patch wood floor
Red Oak Floor

Speaking of just throwing things into the shopping cart, look at Jay’s handy new set of chisels. I think Jay’s long lost calling is as a sculptor. Grab this man a beret cause he pretty much thought he was Michelangelo. Sans naked sculpted people. And just run with the beret reference, I know, these fancy hats are probably before his time but I think artist and I think beret. Roll with it.

Kobalt Wood Chisel Set
Wood Chisel

I kept walking into the room with Jay all focused on his new art form and listening to my husband say things like – this is so relaxing, I love chiseling wood, can we do more of these projects. I could here the angels singing. Music to my ears, grasshopper.

The first step in this covert little operation was to measure where we wanted the wood piece to end at.  We used our level to make sure that the line was as straight as a whistle. No crooked boards here. Also, another little tip. We tried to stagger each board we cut, so that all the wood didn’t end at the same spot. We wanted the new pieces to look as intentional (and original) as possible, so changing end location helped to achieve this.

How to patch wood floor
Measuring Wood

The next step, well this one freaked me out a little. I knew that the pieces of wood had to come up, but still, taking a screw driver to my wood floor was not my vision of progress. More like mutilation. But, it had to be done, so Jay proceeded as I watched and waited on baited breath. You want to screw 2-3 holes right along the line where you plan to have your piece of wood end. Drilling the holes helps to prevent the wood from splitting as you lift up the board, and defines a clear ending point.

How to patch wood floors
Screwing Hole

Once you’ve added 2-3 holes in the wood, you can start to pry up each piece a bit with a crowbar and rubber mallet. If you put in a sufficient amount of holes, you should find that this keeps the wood from splitting beyond your intended end point. We found that some pieces were harder to remove than others, largely due to extra glue being placed on them, making them stick too much to an adjacent board. We tried to be very careful when prying each board up, since we knew that any screw ups could mean taking out a whole other board.

How to patch wood floor
Removing Wood

Once you get the big pieces up, you have enough left at your end to start chiseling, which is what creates the nice, crisp edge, and makes it look like a newly laid piece. In general, Jay would start by tapping along each line (that he drew with his pencil) and then he would come back through and remove each chunk of wood, one layer at a time. Since it is so important that this edge looks perfectly straight, this took about 25 minutes for each piece of wood that was modified. Luckily, Jay seemed to be enjoying this part of the process for the most part, so that always helps make the minutes pass a bit quicker.

How to replace wood floor

After each piece had been chiseled to our hearts content, the wood looked like the photo below. We tried to maintain the staggered look with each piece of wood. See those laser sharp edges? Jay is such a rockstar.

How to replace wood boards on floor
Replacing Wood Floor

May Monthly Roundup

Spring was a long time coming this year in the mitten, but lucky for us, it seems like mother nature is going to kick it into high gear and bring on summer. About time. Now, instead of wrapping up with a blanket and looking out dismally at snow (yes, it snowed in April), we are knocking out some serious projects. Something about that sunshine just puts the pep in yo step. For a little monthly re-capping, in April, we:

Basement Bathroom Remodel

Started renovating the downstairs bath. After testing lots of paint colors, we landed on Benjamin Moore Northern Cliffs, for both the vanity and the walls. After slapping down some marble tile, we just need some artwork and new lighting before we call this one done.

Benjamin Moore Northern Cliffs
Basement Bathroom
Northern Cliffs Bathroom
Basement Bathroom | After

Bathroom Reveal | Upstairs Bath

Since we already had the tile saw out, we decided to tag team the bathroom renos. Although our upstairs bathroom renovation started in March, we capped this guy off in April. We are still searching for the perfect mirror (procrastinators…) but overall, this room is functioning MUCH better (and looking a bit better, too!).

Completed Bathroom Renovation
Bathroom Renovation
Herringbone Subway Tile
Herringbone Subway Tile

Painted Doors

In addition to ripping out our bathroom(s), we decided to tackle some low hanging fruit too. Sometimes you just have to go for the easy win, right? We painted the last two doors in the house that had previously been paneled and pink. Not my cup of tea.

White painted paneled door
Attic Door | After

Installing Gas Line

After starting the process of reinvisioning our kitchen, we opted to do a gas line switcher-roo and move our oven over onto another wall. We opted to hire this one out. $250 (in my mind) is a small price to pay to have this one checked off the list with all our limbs intact.

How to install a gas line
New Gas Line

Countertops + Cabinets

Wanting a white and bright open kitchen space, Jay and I decided we were looking for something that aesthetically resembled marble, but without the upkeep associated. We found a few winners, and in the end, we are leaning toward Sugarbrush Quartz, through Lowes.

Sugarbrush Quartz with Shaker Cabinet
Sugarbrush Quartz with Shaker Cabinet

Wall Removal

Oh, and I almost forgot, we knocked out a wall. Almost didn’t happen, but gotta tell ya, so. very. glad. it. did. The kitchen/dining room space has been absolutely transformed by this decision. More light, better flow, bigger. Every time I walk into the room now, I smile.

How to remove wall
Removing Wall

Studor Pipe Vent 

And in the spirit of the wall removal, we had to mention our studor solution. Studor may or may not be my new favorite word. 😉

How to install air admittance valve
Installing Studor Pipe

In Search of the Classic Kitchen

Things are starting to come together with the kitchen, but now it’s gotten to the point where I have to make decisions on some of the detail items, and personally, I think that can be pretty hard. We decided on the kitchen cabinets (and ordered them, eeek!), I’ll do a cost break down on those babies when I can post some before and after pics for ya. My main issue these days is that the cabinet hardware is giving me a run for my money. I’ve found that the hardware that I like the best is of the antique brass variety, but I’m kind of wondering how the brassy hardware will look with all the other colors we have going on in the space, which are mostly grays and whites. Hmmm – thoughts?

I have my eye on this guy for the cabinet pulls. MMMM – yummy. The sad part – this guy is $15. Multiply that by the dozen or so drawers we have and he is looking a bit less appealing.

Antique Brass Hardware
Antique Brass Hardware

If I did splurge and go with the guy above, I’m thinking that this octagonal knob would accompany. But, trouble is they are different manufacturers  so there is always a chance that the finishes will not match, which would also be a problem. From the pictures, I think they would be close enough, but it would still be a risk to me.

Antique Brass Hardware
Octagonal Knobs

When we first started the kitchen hunt, I was pretty set on getting our cabinets and hardware from the Martha Stewart line at Home Depot. Our cabinets have since deviated to the shaker style cabinet through Diamond (Lowe’s), but I am still strongly considering her line of cabinet hardware to compliment our new kitchen. Once again thought, I totally drawn to the gold finishes.

Martha Stewart Hardware
Martha Hardware

What’s even more frustrating to me though, is that they don’t make the same knobs/pulls in all of the finishes. See the gold bin pull on the left there, love it. But they don’t make the same shape in the nickel finish that we are looking at. Grumble grumble. As far as the details for the hardware, the latch that initially made me fall in love with the idea of the Martha Stewart line for our cabinet hardware was this little guy.

Nickel Cabinet Latch
Martha Cabinet Latch

I think popping some of these beauties on a cabinet just makes it look so old school and lovely. We have one cabinet in particular that will come down all the way onto the counter, and I think this type of hardware gives it more of an authentic built-in look.

Martha Stewart Hardware
Martha Stewart Hardware

If we do go with the nickel finish, I’ll use the bin pull for our drawers and the knob on the middle left section for all the cabinets with doors (other than the built-in, which would get the latches above). Really, the hardest thing so far for me has been matching the sink faucet with the cabinet hardware. I’ve stumbled across kitchens (a la pinterest) that are absolutely stunning with brass hardware, but they usually have a brass faucet as well, to tie things together. All the brass sinks I’ve found are either wayyyy out of our price range (like $900 faucets, whoa), or they are builder grade 1980’s brass, which is quite frankly, not the look we are going for.

American Standard Hampton Nickel
American Standard Hampton Nickel

This faucet, from Home Depot has caught my eye. Well within budget, and pretty dashing. If we went with this faucet, I’m thinking the Martha Stewart line would compliment the sink the best. Thoughts? Any metal mixers out there that have some pics they can direct me to of gold hardware looking classy in a white kitchen?

Studor Saved the Day

So remember this guy, the vent pipe just jutting right through our kitchen causing all kinds of problems. Well after doing some sluething (aka google searching), our initial plan was jut to re-route the pipe, and have it bend into the adjacent exterior wall. But, then we were cordially introduced to Mr. Studor, and oh how he changed our plans. In a very good way 😉

How to remove wall
Wall Removal

When we were spending (another) afternoon in Lowe’s asking away on questions – we had a super friendly dude listen as we blathered on about our vent pipe situation for like 20 mins and when we are done venting (pun intended, he he), he just calmly looks at us and says – have you ever thought about a studor valve. Why no, we hadn’t! By the way, what’s a studor valve (thinks my noggin’). He seemed pretty sure of himself, so he starts walking us over to plumbing and chatting with Jay in coded man talk about studor valves and blah blah blah. I’m just like – dude – does it solve my problemo, let’s just cut to the chase!? Speak my language here!

How to install a studor valve
Air Admittance Valve

Turns out, it does. Instead of routing the vent out into the wall, for $30 you can just by this handy little bopper of a dude and it vents right from under the sink basin. Pros – it allows us to remove the wall without having to worry about rerouting the vent pipe. Cons – (after asking the guy 25 times, he finally came up with) … sometimes studor valves fail after a few years. And I was like – hold the phone – what do you mean, fail? I immediately start to conjure up images of sewage all over my basement floor. But here is what happens – it just starts to stink. Kinda like studor made a tooter, ya know what a mean. And the fix, well, you buy a new one, for another $25-$30 bucks. No harm done. That I can live with, especially if it allows us to proceed full fledged with our little wall removal process, and especially if it’s 3-4 years down the line. Yep – call be shortsighted, but it was a full fledged – onward! – from there.

How to install air admittance valve
Installing Studor Pipe

To get this guy installed, all we had to do was remove the old sink plumbing that was there, and install this new one with the studor pipe attached. Out with the old, in with the new. We had to retrofit the pipe just a bit and cut some of the line off, but overall, it took about 5 minutes.

How to install studor valve
Cutting Pipe

We read online that the one thing that can be affected by installing the studor pipe is the water pressure and flow down in the basement (or in the affected bathroom, in our case this was the basement). So before we committed to actually cutting off the rest of the stack, we made sure to do a quick little water test to see if things were hunky doorey. Guess, what. It was even better than before. Probably since the old drain had tons of hair and gunk in it, but I’ll go ahead and call that a success. 😉

How to install a studor valve
Testing Water

Back up in the kitchen, things were looking like this. Big vented pipe, not going to work with the new kitchen decor.

Studor Valve
Sewer Vent Pipe

Since this pipe goes all the way up into the attic, and is vented up through the roof, Jay popped up into the attic crawl space to saw off the pipe, so that we could remove the section we needed a bit easier. I had this (probably irrational) fear that if Jay joggled the pipe too much, that he would actually disconnect it and make sewer stink flood the house forever, since I was picturing him breaking the line somewhere in between the origination point, and the section we were capping it off at. Luckily, everything went along swimingly.

Capping off sewer vent
PVC Cement

After we had just a stub left to cap, we grabbed some PVC cement to get this guy all wrapped up. Cement, I like the sound of that. Last thing you want is an insufficient seal leading to sewer stink in yo house.

How to cap sewer vent
Sealing Vent

For good measure, we put some on the cap, and on the vent base to make sure we had a perfectly perfect seal. And the final step, capping this baby off on the roof, too. Otherwise we would have rain water falling into this guy up top, which would mean a leaking attic in no time. Here is Jay, conquering his fear of heights and slapping that cap up on the vent.

How to cap sewer vent on ceiling
Capping Sewer Vent

This post is part of the William Morris Project over at Pancakes and French Fries.

Blinded By Beauty | Our Appliance Hunt

I’m a pragmatic girl, so when I got smacked in the face by an un-pragmatic decision – that peeved me. I’m recovering, albeit slowly. So when Jay and I got all pumped about our new appliances we did something very unlike us. We whipped out the credit card and bought those babies without doing our typical round of research. What can I say, the GE Cafe line had me at hello. Their insanely good looks threw me so far off, that I went and bought the least efficient refrigerator out there. Yes, it’s true. Yes, I’m ashamed. Do you see where our fridge is on the energy spectrum. At the top, the very, very top. The good news – there is only a $12 per year difference between our model and the most efficient, but still the penny pinching little greenie in me died a little when Jay showed me. 😉

GE Cafe Fridge Energy Usage
Energy Guide

But, that being said, so far we are totally digging the new additions. Jay stayed home on delivery day to get these bad boys in and it was quite the experience. The guys were super nice, and even brought our old oven out to our garage for us, isn’t that awesome! Here they are bringing the new oven in. They did not use a dolley, rather each had some serious straps on them and they simply lifted the oven (and fridge) up, and hoisted them into the house. To me that seems like quite a recipe for a bad back, but they were super careful about it, so I think they have a system down.

How to Lift Heavy Appliances
Appliance Delivery

We were so excited to see our new appliances coming in that Jay even snapped a photo of them across the street. There they are! About to join our little kitchen family!

GE Cafe Appliances
Appliance Delivery

One thing we noticed off the bat, was that the GE logo was actually black on our appliances, even though the ones we ordered online and had seen in blog land and in stores were actually red. Hmmm, what is the dealo? After a call to (where we got our appliances from) the scoop they gave us was that the newest line of GE Cafe has black logos, so they are actually phasing out the red logos. The only wrinkle this presents us is that the dishwasher we were planning on buying from our local appliance shop, has the red logo. Urgggh. So now we will either have to hunt down a newer one (i.e. not on clearance like the original model we were looking at), or be ok with our logos not matching on the appliances. Still undecided on that one.

GE Cafe Line
GE Cafe Line

When the appliances came, they were hard core wrapped in plastic and protective coatings. We opted to leave the fridge cover on for now, since this guy will actually be chilling in our dining room until we get the kitchen all prepped by removing the cabinetry, painting the walls, etc. The current space for the fridge is actually too small as well, since our new guy is a counter depth unit and the old one was not, which leads to a 3-4 inch difference across.

GE Cafe Fridge
GE Cafe Fridge

So in the mean time, this guy is chilling in our dining room, which quickly went from this:

Double Pedestal Dining Table
Dining Room

To this, when the new appliances arrived. Uggg. Feels like we are officially in the middle of a reno, no?

GE Cafe Fridge
New Dining Room Setup

Here is our new oven. Mighty swanky!! The things we started to realize as we unloaded the goody goods, included the fact that we will have to move the electrical box peaking out above the oven right now so that the cord isn’t visible. We will also have to install another light socket above the current location, since the microwave hood will also need some juice. Just add that baby onto the to-do list!

GE Cafe Oven
GE Cafe Oven

Notice all the packaging on these guys? I’m glad they came sufficiently covered, but MAN it took us nearly two hours to unwrap the oven. No serrriously. That – that is too much packaging, ya think?

Rip Er’ Out

It’s gotten to the point we’ve been dreading. The point we’ve been trying to avoid as long as possible. The demo phase of the reno has officially begun. As much as I hate this phase, it also makes me gleefully excited. Like maniacally laughing excited. Sometimes I get like that, you? Kay – maybe it’s just me.

Here is the official before shot. See, most – normal – people would be like, yeah, looks good! Nice kitchen. Me … well, I think we’ve already confirmed my non-normality. So, I’m ripping it out.

Corner pantry storage
Kitchen Corner

And here is a snapshot of all that it stored. Not inconsequential. It’s a decent amount of stuff that will need to find a new storage home.

Kitchen Pantry Storage
Kitchen Pantry Storage

So, once we determined that these cabinets would be the first to get the official heave ho, we started emptying them out. One by one and two by two. And loaded everything out onto our dining room table. These are the moments when it starts to hit you. Uggg. The next few weeks are going to be a barrel of monkeys. My pantry is now officially on my table. I don’t feel like that is where it belongs…

Emptied kitchen cabinets
All Our Kitchen Stuff

After jerry rigging with the cabinets for a bit, and trying to find screws to dismantled the cabinets, we slowly came to the realization that the counters had to come off before any other kitchen related item was going to budge. So, we figured the first step was to start by scoring the glue and silicone that was keeping the counter on the cabinets.

How to remove granite counters
Razor Blade

The scoring helped, but it wasn’t sufficient to completely get the counters off. So Jay did a quick google search and we grabbed a putty knife, hoping that this could get down a little further to continue to break the seal and leverage the counter up more.

How to remove granite counter
Removing Granite Counter

And then, after some major huffing and puffing, that baby came right on up. I did a happy dance, Jay made a happy face. Then we realized that for 5 square feet of counter, granite is heavy. Very, very heavy. He’s smiling here, just wait a few seconds later …

How to remove granite counter
Removing Counter

Of course the Manager had to come by and observe. Make sure everything was up to his standard. He approved. Onward!

The Manager
The Manager

After the granite was up, the screws to remove the cabinets were very easy to access, so the demo from this point was pretty smooth sailing. The cabinets (like the counters) were very substantial, so it definitely took both Jay and I to remove each one (especially the top cabinets).

Removing Cabinets
Removing Cabinets

And after 30 mins, we had a cleared cabinet corner. Demolition success!

Removing Kitchen Cabinets
Removing Cabinets

For now, we will leave the other side of the kitchen intact so that we can have some counter top/storage space throughout the renovation process. Although we do miss the storage now that these cabinets are out, it does feel awfully nice to have a start on this project!