Friday, November 4, 2011

Being Reborn

We are getting to a point in our world where we will start mining our landfills.  And I think I will see it in my lifetime.  Already companies are crushing down toilets and sinks to turn them into tiles, the "green movement" has gotten out of hand in my opinion, it's turned into a money maker instead of a environmental conscious effort. 

Part of me wants to salvage because I hate throwing things in the landfill, another part of me just loves old stuff.  We work so hard to make a product only to rip it out and "update it" when it still has so much life left in it.  What we should do is choose things that we can live with for longer periods of time that are durable, fairly priced and environmentally friendly. But most of the time price is our first deciding factor and throws out all other options giving us only short term solutions. My budget really could only afford laminate counter tops.  We would have installed them and then within the next 5 years riped them out to something we really liked.  I would have paid for a product that took lots of chemicals, time, and fuels to make only to throw it into the earth to rot and pollute.  Doesn't make a lot of sense.  I just cant do that.  So I put my out of the box thinker cap on and decided to wait for something that I could really like/live with long term.  I hadn't planned on tracking down chalk board slate as counter tops, but stumbled on them while searching for something else and realize that it had all the key factors that I was looking for.  Its extremely durable you can set a hot pot directly on it and it wont burn, its stone which is a huge upgrade from laminate and can probably outlast me and its recycled so its priced really well.  Plus its just so cool........

It had been used in a old school for many years and with technology black boards really aren't in use anymore.  I see why someone decided to nix it, it makes sense..... but nothing is wrong with it.  So, why not carefully rip it out and let it have another use?  It's already been mined from the earth the damage is done so why not keep using it? Very few people have used it as counter tops, but it's no different than any other stone.  Well except for the fact that you can write on it......and I think that puts it on a whole new level of cool.......

Its properties are a lot like marble, it was cut with a marble blade hand saw. (We decided to hire the cutting of the slate, the last thing we wanted to do was break a piece in half by not having the right equipment, we attempted to DIY but decided some things are best left to the pro's) We attached 3/4" plywood substrate down to the bottom cabinets, with a 1/4" hardy backer board and a layer of thin set the slate was installed. We still have some edging to do, but overall it was relatively easy.  My favorite piece is the island side.  It has original lines for practicing handwriting.  I attempted to write my ABC's..........

It's a great juxtaposition to the new and fresh environment, it feels used, but just's almost like graffiti, we can create and have people create, there's never going to be a dull moment in this kitchen! 


Sunday, October 30, 2011

A complex set of boxes

We have never built a kitchen island.

Its a little bit different then the rest of the kitchen.  Let  me explain.

You construct your cabinet boxes, attach them together then level and bolt them to the wall.  Those little suckers won't go anywhere.  An island starts off the same way, building little boxes, attaching together but what do you bolt them to?  The answer:  the floor. 

Not as easy as you think.  And to top it off, there's alot going on in this 4 x 5 space.  A kitchen sink, a small miniature dishwasher, wine nook, decorative cabinet and power for a desk station. Oh...... and did I mention my favorite thing......a full sheet of chalk board!!!!!!!!!

For the last couple of weeks we built the boxes and distracted ourselves with other items that we easily decided were more important. But as other items got checked off the list we were faced with having to finish it. So we finally just jumped in and did it.  Why we were so hesitant to begin this build? It's our tile floor. Our tile is a through body porcelain meaning its the real deal not just a porcelain top coat. 

What this really means...... it's tougher then nails.  It took a series of 5 to 8  masonry and tile drill bits, some smoke and even water to drill 4 little holes.  Not what we expected. Who knew tile could be so strong? Duh....  We started on one side and worked our way to the other, it's probably not the exact way a cabinet installer would do it but I know that baby will never budge a inch. 

Now all it's waiting for is a top........yes that's right a chalk board top.


Friday, October 28, 2011

A bit behind, but worth it!

The best news ever that I am delayed in sharing is that I DID IT!!! (Those who follow on FB know what I have already done), and I'm a little behind in sharing this amazing news, but on 10.25.2011 I officially passed by final inspection and have owner occupancy!!!!  We have been working like little busy bees on our checklist of smoke detectors, hooking up water lines, installing the toilet etc to make our deadline.  I only had ONE more day before my permit expired for the year, and the last thing I needed to do was shell out more money for an extension.   

This piece of paper for the last year has been a major element in my life.  Each and every signature for every inspection I held my breath hoping that I had done everything correct.  I followed the rules and code's required there shouldn't have been any worry, but it's just that "our of your hands feeling" that puts you on edge.  The building department is like the DMV you get that defensive look, the constantly sizing you up look and I think secretly hoping you slip up a bit so they can have a little fun.  I had a amazing inspector who really was as low key as a person could hope for, but the minute he signed that paper and drove off I let out a huge screaming


 The bottled up anxiety and tension from almost 1 year to the day fluttered away in an instant. I received that blank sheet of paper a year ago with hardly any knowledge of half the items on it and little to no self esteem in myself that I could actually do it. And now I run my finger down that list and laugh at how easy most of it was and what knowledge and self worth I gave myself in this challenge. I really love pushing myself to see how far I can go before I crack.  This one really takes the cake, there has been trials and times that I questioned myself but I made it........ almost......and it feels incredible.   There is still lots left to do trim, tiling, etc. but now big brother isn't breathing down  my back and that's a great feeling. 

Like I said I'm way behind on what we have been up too, so stay tuned lots more to come!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

A little bit of this and a little bit of that

Well hello.

We have been working away and I wanted to show off the new bits of the kitchen.  I couldn't just decide on one cabinet style so I choose two and really like the contrast between both.  Those gorgeous wood doors were actually purchased even before we broke ground and had the kitchen finalized but they were being discontinued and you know how Ikea is.....things go quick.  So amongst many Ikea shoppers on a Saturday I sat myself down in a corner of the store blocked out the dreaded noise and made it work. A little risky yes, but those doors were my major "wow" factor and needed to incorporate that driftwood inspiration that I pulled from the exterior materials. 

There are still some details left to be completed, one being the island cabinet.  It's in a very rough form at the moment causing some head scratching for sure........

And then there's counter tops..........another huge head scratching element.  Can you say Chalk Board Slate...

Monday, October 10, 2011

When it feels like a home

Again, a new layer has been reached in the final chapters of this all consuming process.  A comforting realisation of what we as humans find as security. It's our space and our stuff. Living within our stuff kind of defines you.  It shouldn't control you, but it helps relax the mind into letting your guard down and being yourself. Don't you just always feel comforted when you get home from a long day at work, of after a vacation walking back in the front door for the first time after being gone.  You just breath a little sign of relief that "your home".

What spurred on such deep thought provoking philosophy while assembling kitchen cabinet boxes with the bald headed no clothes wearing ikea helper man above? Well, we have been living without our "stuff" like two gypsy's for over a year while building this project. Just our clothes and essentials shacked up in my mothers house, but I'm grateful for having a place to lay our head.  All of our "home" is in a storage unit waiting to be unpacked and loved again patiently until we finish this amazing chapter and return to our lives and next adventure.  I'm missing our "home" so much lately that I think I'm really in tune with registering my lack of that feeling. You think you don't need that feeling that it's freeing without that security, but when it's gone for a long period of time it starts becoming more present in the day to day little things. And for some reason, starting to hang the kitchen cabinets the space transitioned into the beginnings of the home feeling.  It has mostly felt up until now like a art gallery atmosphere.  Its very nice but not livable, or a place you want to spend a long period of time in.

It could be that I turned on the radiant floor heater and it feels wonderful on the toes, but I just don't want to leave. I just find myself sitting in there envisioning what it's going to look like, how good it would feel to live in.......a little like my home away from home.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Part TWO of a dozen

Grouting makes a world of difference, all the little imperfections just disappear. Good rule of thumb is to never judge a tile job until it's grouted and sealed.  A lot can change with a little 1/16th line.

It is however my least favorite part.  The process drags on and on and it takes FOREVER to clean.
Layer by layer of thinset mudd has to be buffed out, but in the end it's worth it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Part ONE of a dozen

There are so many steps that have had to occur in order to get to this point.  And there are still a number of steps left to complete before we have finished tiling the floor.  We are in the middle of a little bit of limbo at the momment, not the best feeling, but we are pushing through.  Tiling is not an easy task, but we have tiled enough to feel comfortable with it and are up for the challenge of such a large space. This floor can look HUGE when your moving tile by tile across the room. Lot's can go wrong!

We both have our jobs, I lay and he cuts. Both are messy, exhausting and keep you on your toes. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Its that time of year..

I am way behind on my blogging and have been working round the clock and have had no time to show you all what we have been up too!

The chill is in the air and winter is coming round the corner faster than I had wanted. And, naturally we are starting to install the heating system, so it's perfect timing!

I am a huge fan of radiant flooring and have used it on other projects and recommend using when at all possible. Even just in the bathroom if you can.  It does take a little getting used to.... when you turn it on at the thermostat nothing happens right away. No clicking on,  no hot air running through ducts, no immediate warmth....but sure enough the air starts to change and your toes are cozy, and all of a sudden your warm without you even realizing it. It's a much better heating system then forced air or baseboard heaters.  It only heats the lower to middle areas of a space (basically where people are) and doesn't fluctuate from hot to cold all day long. Its just super great, ok!

There are lots of different radiant flooring options, I chose the electrical option for cost purposes and ease of install..........

  Well, the ease of install in not technically true.  Its nice to not have to hire someone to install it, I can do it myself but you have to be able to read there confusing layout maps and have some good knee pads....ok and a little patience. But well worth it!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Lessons learned

Learned a HUGE lesson the other day that sure could have flip flopped into a "oh my god we are screwed, there is no way to fix this" moment.  Never, (I repeat) Never think that manufactures just put "guidelines" on there products just for fun.  Just follow the guidelines.  So, I will explain.

This isn't our first rodeo. 

We have tiled bathrooms, kitchens etc. and are very familiar with Hardi Backer.  For those of you who aren't... its the cement board that is mudded using thinset onto the wood sub floor to create a solid non-flexible surface the tile is mudded to with thin set.  The point being, it removes any movement the sub floor might have so that the non flexible tiles will not crack or move. 

Back to where we went wrong.

1. We are tired, working 7 days a week to complete this project. 2. This is the most square footage we have tackled in one area and it's a little intimidating. 3. And, I really wanted to get done early for the day so I could make it to my friends bachlorette party. (just being honest)

On each hardi backer board there are these wonderful little recessed dots that indicate where a nail should be placed when attaching to the floor.  Each 3 x 5 panel has roughly 1 every 6 inches. Alot.......right? Understanding, that our mind set were numbers 1 2 and 3 from above, so we decide that we don't need that many nails.  "We have been doing this enough times, we will be fine."

Big fat WRONG.

Why did we think that "we" two little peons could out think some engineering master who sits in a lab all day testing and specifying products for companies, so that they could give us guildelines to properly install there products?

Our entire floor squished and creeked and moved. Expecially in ALL the high traffic areas.

A rush of panic set in, this was not something that we could just pull up and start again. These cement boards are mudded down and ripping them up would ruin our subfloor completely.  Not Good...... and just saying oh well and installing our tile would eventually leave us to cracked tiles and a waste of our time.

So my husband being the researching maniac as he is ran down to the computer (where he usually finds most of our problem solving solutions) and quickly determined that most people run into problems like ours and that there is not a really great solution other than screwing the hell out of each panel. 

3 lbs. of screws and nails later, our hardi floors looked like a crazy person had used the floor for shot gun practice.   Insert image of a buck shot here......

To my amazement and extreme thankfullness, it worked.  Not a squish, or giggle not nothing! Solid as a rock!

So folks, lesson learned.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bit by bit

The sage continues with the endless amount of tongue and groove cedar.....

I can't count anymore how many brush strokes and gallons of stain I have racked up.  I'm in the thousands for sure.....and who needs to work out anymore when you climb ladders all day long?

Not me....when you climb up and down a ladder twice in 6 inch increments all day long it's enough to drive a person to drink.  Well, having a tasty beverage near by has numbed the back pain and pulled us through mentally but it's still daunting.

It's beautiful and essential to the design, but boy I'm I sick to death of wood.

On a positive note, since this post has a agitated negative tone, it's nice to be working inside out of the rain and cold and back into more familiar ground....

Thursday, September 22, 2011

God Rays

My husband snapped these shots a couple of days ago early one morning.  So beautiful don't you think?

I have been "in the trenches" lately...........  In the beginning of a project your energy is high and by the end your running on fumes so tired and waiting for it to be over. It causes you to forget what you are doing and why you are doing it.  Then you look at photos like these and remember that this is only going to happen once.  This moment in time will never exist again and if my face is down in the trenches so stresses and worried I'm going to miss all  the beauty that's happening right above my head. That's why I love documenting this process, I can't wait to look back in 5 years and recap what we did from a differentt perspective.  This project has taken things for me to a whole new level, in some ways things haven't turned out as I had hoped, and in others they are better then I expected.  Maybe that's what I needed to get out of this, and the god rays are singing loud and clear.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Let the light shine in

I forgot to post about my garage doors.....they have been installed for awhile now and I was totally in love with them the minute they were in place.  It's funny to admit that you were in love with aluminum frames and glass, but these beauties make my entire garage sing!!!


We went round and round about some fiberglass plain Jane simple door or these expensive little suckers. In the end the decision of cheapen out on a huge element (that you are most likely never to replace unless broken) was a no way and a splurging must.  Plus I designed the garage to have no windows around the perimeter to ensure lots of it would have been a

   dark cavern = no place for me.

The odds and ends

Finishing up the little details for the exterior siding before we complete the inside has been a BIG mental challenge for me. I have been buying kitchen cabinets, tile for the floor, staining the wood ceiling etc. but nothing should be started inside until I finish that darn exterior.  I don't want to be touch up painting in the middle of a rain storm on a tall ladder 20 feet high, so I had to just force myself to pick up that paint brush and finish what I started.

I'm pleased to report that all the exterior hardi panels got a fresh and final coat of paint, exterior wood nail holes filled and stained,  exterior trim around all the soffit vents had to be installed and stained / painted, exterior lights installed and programed and the largest task of painting the exterior stairs and installing the wood landing are all complete! Yippy!!!

So, to be truthfull....... there are still a couple of small odds and ends of metal trim on corners that will be unfinished until the end, nothing too noticable but for budget purposes we can live without them for now.  I feel so much better to have that checked off my huge list and now the fun part that I have been waiting for all project long can begin!  Plus it just started raining so....... it's going to be nice and dry inside!