September 30, 2009

Hollering At Ikea

With sincere apologies to those it offends, I'd like to share a family story.

Both my parents and my grandparents attended Michigan State and are proud Michigan State Spartan Fans.  For at least 40 years, my mom and dad have held season tickets to Michigan State home football games, and have - with pain and humility - watched the Spartans repeatedly snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Each big ten team has its own 'hierarchy of hatred'.  For example: Ohio State hates Michigan and Michigan hates Michigan State. But we ALL UNITE in hating Notre Dame.  Many years ago, my parents and a friend of theirs managed to score coveted and rare tickets to that season's Notre Game vs. Michigan State game.  It was an away game, so off they drove from Grand Rapids to South Bend.

As they approached South Bend, the traffic slowed to a crawl, gold and blue Notre Dame paraphernalia flew, the sidewalks crowded with game attendees and the game anticipation became palpable. Suddenly, from the quiet front seat, my parents' friend scared the shit out of everyone by yelling, "JESUS CHRIST THE TENSION IS MOUNTING!!"

Ever since, this phrase has been hollered (you must holler it) by my family on Christmas eves, during plane take-offs and landings, before ultrasound results, and any other antsy excited situation. Any of you still with me?   Good.  Let me tell you what all this blaspheming has to do with my Holyoke Home.   I last hollered this phrase at the New Haven exit sign on Route 91 South, because Ikea was moments away. The meatballs!  The mind numbing number of boxes!  The opportunity to impulse buy white ceramic things you don't need!  JESUS CHRIST THE TENSION IS MOUNTING!

We went to Ikea to furnish our row house kitchen.  Before going, we measured every nook and cranny of our kitchen space, wrote a very specific list of what we needed, created a budget, and negotiated a general idea of the colors and look we wanted.  I HIGHLY recommend doing all this before you visit Ikea to avoid saying things to your significant other like, "We've been here five hours and all we've decided on is the DRAWER PULLS?!" or, "YOU PICK THE KICK PLATE COLOR!  I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT KICK PLATE IS!  I'M GOING TO THE FOOD COURT!" or, perhaps worst of all: "I don't know where I left your heavy duty measuring tape."

I also suggest bringing a snack so that you don't. Um. Start to cry when your blood sugar gets really low because you ate lunch (MEATBALLS!) five hours ago and now someone's asking you to choose the color and finish of your counter top, but your brain isn't working (true story.)

The layout of our row house kitchen is a pain in the ass.  The room includes FOUR doorways, TWO windows, and a weird 'there might have been a fireplace here' type bump-out on one wall.  Around all these, we had to find space for a stove, fridge, sink and dishwasher, prep area and (limited) storage.

Here's a visual:

In the next post, I'll show you the layout we designed as well as the stuff we bought at Ikea.  Which only includes two white ceramic things I don't need.

September 28, 2009

Settling In

The row house is beginning to feel a little bit like it might be ours.  A little bit like it might be home.  We're settling in.  

The lights in the front hallway at night make me really happy.  Maybe it's because their warm glow takes the edge off the wallpaper.

September 25, 2009

Holyoke Canalwalk Pour

I noticed they started the Holyoke Canalwalk concrete pour.  The walk features concrete stamped to look like red brick.  I am so glad they decided to use the concrete that has the color throughout - as opposed to just spraying the color on top.  The lights are also up (though they aren't in this picture), and they look GREAT!  Can't wait to walk along the canal.

Someone painted this most excellent sign outside the Canal Gallery and Artist Studio building.  It's right next door to the canal walk.

September 23, 2009

Ew. Ew. Ew.

Lots of kitchen posts to come (hint: trip to Ikea), but before that, let's take a quick peek at the upstairs bathroom.  In particular?  The walls. 

Apparently our row house walls (outside the kitchen, where they added drywall) are all plaster lathe and horsehair, as evidenced by  THE.  HORSE.   HAIR.   IN.  THE.  WALLS.

September 21, 2009

Painted Kitchen Floor Complete! Oh. And some other stuff.

I finished crawling around on my hands and knees with a caulk gun in my hand.  I won't do that again until  - well - until I start the upstairs bathroom renovation.

Voila!  I'm really happy with the results - both the caulking work AND the gloss polyurethane finish.  If one were to look VERY closely, one might find some Morgan hairs embedded in the finish, despite copious vaccuuming, tack cloth applications, and a damp rag in my back pocket to swipe up any visible stray hairs.  I did my best.  I have no idea how those Morgan hairs got in there.  They must be magical.

We also finished painting the ceiling (Atrium White by Benjamin Moore - semi-gloss) and the walls (Cliffside Grey by Benjamin Moore - eggshell).  The photo below is a fairly accurate representation of the actual colors, although the walls are a little less blue and a little more gray.

Also, do you see the bead board above?  Nice.

September 17, 2009

Kitchen Painted Floor: Another Cautionary Tale

We've been working hard on pullin' the kitchen together.   Lots and lots of posts coming up!  We divided up the 'to do' list, and I'm in charge of painting and sealing the floor. ........Or is it in charge of me?

Remember, the floors were sanded and prepped with one coat of oil-based sanding sealer.  I then vacuumed and tack-clothed the floors and applied - over two days -  three thin coats (THIN coats are very important!) of latex floor paint (from Clark Paint) in Benjamin Moore Dorset Gold.  Love the color.  Love. 

But........... (you knew that was coming, right?)  I don't love gaps between the boards.  The dark lines between the boards have a very 'cottage-y' effect, while all the photos of painted floors I like show very tight boards with a consistent color and uniform glossy surface.
The photo above shows the 'country cottage' effect.  Not terrible, right?  But not great.

We thought about applying caulk to the nail holes and between all the boards. We wondered if the soft pine floors would contract and expand a lot, making caulk between the boards irrelevant, so I called Clark Paint to ask for advice.  They suggested a very high-quality paintable caulk between the boards.  They didn't think floors would expand and contract too much.   They recommended DAP (I think that's the brand name?) 35 year latex caulk.  Then ANOTHER EFFING coat of paint to cover the caulk, THEN the polyurethane.

I keep thinking 'a thing worth doing is worth doing well', but I have to say: the thought of crawling around on my hands and knees caulking all those floorboard makes me want to cry a little.  I think I'm just tired of not having a kitchen.  I'll feel so much better when there is a hooked up stove out of which something warm can come.

September 13, 2009

Holyoke Block Party

So. Much. Fun.

The food (Brennan's and Salsa Rengue) was delicious.
The music and performances were INCREDIBLE.
The weather was beautiful.
A belated but no less heart-felt thank you to everyone who helped pull off such an AMAZING  and successful event.

September 11, 2009

Two Outlets in the Kitchen Ain't Going to Cut It

There were two outlets in the kitchen when we bought the house.   Typical old house, right?  Our Holyoke Home has maybe two outlets in each room, and one light switch.   I grew up in an old farm house that literally had ONE outlet and one light switch in each room, so two is almost retched excess. 

But for us, two outlets in the kitchen ain't going to cut it.  Hell, the coffee bean grinder needs a dedicated plug of it's own (Kidding. Kind of.)  So we called in Beaulieu electricians.

These guys snaked wires though our very tight walls, added a second circuit, replaced our dangerous rusted neutral bar, and left us with five outlets in the kitchen. 

God I love white outlet face plates.  I spit on beige outlet face plates.  Spit on them!

September 9, 2009

French Canadian Skim-Coating Cabal

WARNING: Do not ever apply water-based primer (Kilz, etc.) over wallpaper before you have tried to remove said paper first by simply saturating it with water and using a scraper.  Why?  Because, dear reader, it is quite possible that the paper will BUBBLE UP LIKE A... would have come off with some water, and all the time you spent carefully applying said water-based primer will be a complete waste of time.  ALSO?  You will have sealed the rest of the surface, making the removal of the more stubborn areas of wall paper completely impossible.

The photo below illustrates what the inside of my brain looks like in the morning before I've had coffee.  It also illustrates what my kitchen looked like after learning the important lesson above:

Enter the French Canadians.  Did you know that French Canadians are famous for their mad drywall and plastering skills?  That's right: to exquisite smoked meat, Celine Dion, and cold winters, add ass-kicking skim-coaters.  There is - apparently - a long, hearty tradition of French Canadians in this particular building trade.  Let me tell you: a good skim coater is a magician.  And after the Kilz shenanigans, I was ready to pay a magician. 

This is Levi (pronounced Leh-VEE)

I made a complete ass of myself trying to speak french with Levi.  Complete.  Ass.  The entire conversation went like this:

Me: [A simple sentence in French]
Levi: [A bunch of real French.]
Me: Uh........
Levi: [Says what he just said, but in English.]
[Repeat ad nauseum. ]

But now we have kitchen walls that actually look like normal, smooth kitchen walls that are ready to be painted!

September 8, 2009

Highland Hardware

We're trying to support local businesses and keep our renovation spending as close to home as possible.  As such, we've probably been to Highland Hardware about 20 times in the last month.   For those who've been, I needn't tell you:  Highland Hardware and Bike Shop is more than a hardware store; it is a Holyoke institution and a Holyoke history lesson.   On our most recent trip, we needed roller shades.  It's always fun to roam the aisles (love the creaking wooden floors) and chat with Harry.

If they don't have what you're looking for, they're happy to order it.

September 6, 2009

Renovation Translation Service

I am learning lots of new words.

Neutral Bar - Contrary to the sound of it, a neutral bar is not something you eat. Rather, it's an important part of your fuse box. If your neutral bar is rusted, seek professional assistance.

Screw Schedule or Nailing Schedule - Seriously. These are ACTUAL TERMS that means something TOTALLY different from what you think they mean. A screw or nail schedule is the number or pattern of fasteners used (Refer to your local building code if you have any questions. I do not recommend Googling these terms.)

September 5, 2009

Kitchen Bead Board: The Details

To prepare the kitchen bead boards, we removed (I need a more violent verb than 'remove' to convey the actual work) all the vinyl paneling, drywall, and drywall nails. We patched nail holes, sanded and tack clothed the bead boards, primed them and bought the least offensive chair rail molding (which is actually a door and window casing) I could find at the big box store because it was Sunday and Highland Hardware was closed.

Somewhere along the line, a previous owner installed drywall over the plaster lathe walls in the kitchen, so when we removed the drywall from the waist down to expose the bead board, we were left with an awkward and pronounced drywall overhang. One of us (not me) designed a two-level chair rail application to solve this problem.

Clever, right?

First, we cut the drywall where the bead board ended. Then we attached a 1/2" x 1 1/2" pine trim piece at the top of the bead board. We then attached the chair rail to the pine, exposing 3/8" of the pine on the bottom.

My dear friend KG and I spent eight hours measuring, cutting, and installing the chair rail.

Morgan supervised and brought us coffee when our energy flagged.

We chose Benjamin Moore Atrium White for the bead board and (eventually) the ceiling. Atrium White is like a pure white that's thinking about maybe heading toward ivory; it's like pure white with the blinding 'HOLY SHIT THAT'S WHITE' removed. It also matches our Ikea cabinets (more on these soon.)

I so tired.

September 2, 2009

Kitchen Discovery: A Cautionary Tale

Two Sundays ago, we had tickets to see the Decemberists at the new Mountain Park here in Holyoke. But after demolition all day, we were barely standing. We gave our tickets to a couple of friends, ate dinner, and fell unconscious. Folks said it was a great show.

Why more kitchen demo? Demo was complete, but for moving some plumbing and electric. Since we plan to remove the wall between the kitchen and dining room in a few years to create a really big, warm, modern kitchen that's open to the dining room, we have a small budget for this initial kitchen renovation. We budgeted for the cost and time associated with an Ikea sink cabinet, new electric, a counter top, and some gallons of paint.

But in the process of cutting for the new plumbing we found original bead board wainscoting after removing nasty plastic boards and dry wall underneath. I forgot to take a picture of the raw exposed bead board, but it was just like the bead board in the bathroom.

So, we had to decide. More days of demo to expose ALL the bead board, plus the work of caulking, sanding, priming and painting it? Or forget about the darling original detail hiding under all that crap.


We started demo. Here's the sink area before:
Here's the sink area post demo with primed bead board.

September 1, 2009

Master Bath Before