Friday, January 29, 2010

The Kitchen- Part Three

When we set out to remove our kitchen's old counters, we knew we wanted to replace them with granite (actually I was coveting a marble counter top but after learning about its potential problems with staining, I agreed with DH to get granite).

We started off by visiting stone yards- I was looking for a granite that looked like marble but anyone that's tried doing this before will tell you it's difficult. While there were many white and lighter colored granites, none of them had that marble-like effect I was going for. Somewhat discouraged, I decided to go in the totally opposite direction and get a darker colored granite. Luckily, DH didn't mind either way but just wanted a decision to be made so we didn't have to keep driving around to different stone yards.

I first considered going with absolute black granite but after seeing it in person, I wasn't feeling it. I loved how it looked as a honed granite but DH wasn't a big fan. Finally, we decided on a granite called gray-ash. The color is a dark gray with very small specks of white spattered throughout.

Here's are some pictures of how it looked when it was finally installed:

The counters came not a moment too soon as they were installed the day before we moved in. Talk about cutting it close. We're getting closer to the finished product!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Kitchen- Part Two

After we removed the counters, we were able to get started on painting the cabinets. Our cabinets are oak and even though everyone said not to paint them white , we went ahead and did just that. I tried to do as much research as possible beforehand so I knew what we were in for. We were definitely going to need a sander, primer and of course the paint. Something new I encountered was wood filler- I never even knew it existed. I wanted to change the hardware on the cabinets from the old utensil styled handles that the old owners had to knobs so wood filler was definitely a necessity.

We used Kilz primer- although I've read this is supposed to be the best primer ever, I have to admit I'm not a fan. It tended to clump up and was pretty hard to put on. We used two coats of primer and then two coats of paint. I usually don't mind painting but I've never painted cabinets before- the whole process was kind of grueling. Luckily my dad offered to take our cabinet doors home and finished painting them for us. Here some photos of the the work in progress:

Next stop- the counters!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Kitchen

Before we even bought our house, it was obvious that the kitchen was going to need some major updating. It was functional but in desperate need of some tlc. There were orange oak cabinets, fluorescent lighting and stained walls- it wasn't pretty.

The plan was to replace the appliances, floors and counters. We decided to keep the cabinets and paint them white.

The first thing we did was to rip out the counters. We had no previous experience in doing this but were able to get most of the counter up after using a box cutter to cut around the edges of the counter. We ran into only a couple of issues. The first was disconnecting the garbage disposal so we could remove the sink. No matter how many times I watched a how-to video on you tube, I could not disconnect the stupid thing. Thankfully one of our new neighbors came to the rescue and disconnected it for us.

The second issue we ran into was removing the counter that was immediately next to the pantry. We're guessing that the pantry was added after the kitchen since even after we disconnected the counter, we did not have enough space to lift it out since the pantry was blocking any room we would have had. With five people pulling at the counter (DH, myself, our neighbor and the two gentlemen from 1-800-Got-Junk who we called to haul away the counters and carpet), the darn thing would not budge. Finally, our neighbor (again) used an automatic saw and the counter finally met its fate by being cut in half. Here are some photos of our handy-work:

Finally the kitchen was ready for its facelift- some new paint, counters and appliances. More to come :)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Floored- Part Two

We closed on our house on August 14 and moved in on the 28th so that really didn't leave us with much time to make all of the changes in our house. That being said, one of the most important priorities was the flooring.

Our entire house got re-floored. This includes the living room, kitchen and third floor loft which is also DH's man-room. For the living room and third floor, we knew we wanted to put a hardwood-like floor (hello laminate) but definitely not carpet. Before starting this project, the only places I knew of where to purchase flooring were Home Depot and Lowes. But after reading Young House Love, I learned about Lumber Liquidators. After checking them out on-line, their prices seemed reasonable and there was a store close by- 2 definite pluses.

With our tight time-line, DH and I didn't waste anytime and went to the closest store location. We actually went before the closing since we knew there would be little time to order everything and have it installed by our move-in date. We knew what our budget was and what we thought looked nice but definitely did not know anything else that went into picking out a floor (i.e. thickness of the planks, sound barriers, etc). After some browsing around, we settled on a laminate flooring- Monti Christi Mahogany to be exact. The color on the single plank in the store's show-room had a medium-brown color. The finish also had more of a sheen than some of the other flooring options.

The next week our order arrived and literally two days later, the floors started going in.

It was a pretty quick process and took about 4 days to finish everything up. Here are some photos of the progress and what the floors look like now:

The floors look a lot darker laid out than it did in the single plank but we love it. It's also one of the things in our house that we get the most compliments on. While I'm a little sorry we didn't go with real hardwood, the laminate is a dream to take care of and seems to never scratch or stain. Can't complain there!

The last step of our flooring experience was the installation of carpeting on the second floor. This really wasn't too exciting- after all, carpet is carpet. It was put in literally the day before we moved in. We enacted a rule of no shoes on the carpet in an attempt to keep it looking like new for as long as possible. We'll see how it goes!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Floored- Part One

When we bought the house, 90% of it was covered in carpeting. The only exceptions were the foyer and kitchen which had tile and pergo flooring. The entire house also had an unappealing smell that I'm pretty no amount of febreeze or window-opening would have gotten rid of. So there was pretty much no question in our minds that the floors (especially the carpets) were going to be replaced.

Here are some "before" shots for an idea of what the floors used to look like:

While we weren't going to attempt to install the new flooring ourselves (with zero experience and 2 full time jobs), we wasted no time in ripping up all of the old flooring.

The first step was to pull up all of the old carpeting. This was definitely a lot easier said than done. The carpets came up in huge pieces that were incredibly heavy to roll up.

And of course under the carpet was old carpet padding which were just what anyone expects them to be- gross.

In addition to tearing up the carpet (and padding), we attacked the tiles in the foyer.
I was inspired to do this after watching a how-to video on you tube. Of course the professional on the clip made it look like there was nothing to it. This was NOT THE CASE. The tiles came up slooooowwwlly and in tiny pieces with DH chipping away at them for an entire day. Thankfully, after a lot of sweat (but no blood or tears), the tiles came up- little chip by little chip.

While DH was working on the tiles, I attacked the flooring in the kitchen. Luckily the flooring was a lock and click system so after some prying, the panels came up rather easily, revealing lovely old linoleum with some graffiti left by a former homeowner:

After two weekends of floor ripping, we were exhausted and not to mention a bit nervous that we had no idea what we were doing. But at that point it was too late- professionals were coming to install hardwood on the entire first and third floor and carpet everywhere else. I'll post the "after" pictures on the next post!