Friday, November 29, 2013

Appliance woes

After getting our tile in and grouted (yay! it looks so nice!) -- we put up our range hood.  Got it all hooked up -- and it didn't work.  We redid the electrical, tried it again, and nothing.  Our electrical testers all show that the electricity is flowing but the switches appear to be faulty.  So we called the IKEA number listed, it routed us to the Whirlpool IKEA help line (IKEA appliances are manufactured by Whirlpool), and after walking through our process with the customer service agent, she said, "sounds like we need to send a technician out."  Since we still had all the original packaging and the IKEA store is about 20 minutes away, we asked if we should just return it to IKEA - and the agent on the phone said, "Sounds like the quickest option." 
So - we un-installed it, repacked it and drove over to IKEA.  Where they promptly told us they do not accept them back for exchanges, we must have the Whirlpool people out.  boo.  Bad advice from the customer agent.  The IKEA people were nice, but clear - they do not accept installed, then uninstalled pieces.  If we had not installed it, yes, they would have returned it (but of course, we didn't know it didn't work until we installed it!)  So now we have an appointment for the Whirlpool repair people to come out on Tuesday to see if they can get it all taken care of.  In the meantime, it's all installed (vent installed, electrical off for now), waiting to have the white plastic taken off (didn't want to do that before they fixed the whole deal.)

In the meantime, we took out the stove, changed the outlet and extended the gas line over a few inches so that we could fully slide the stove in.  We'd been smelling a bit of gas while the stove is on convection, and we figured we probably needed to level it, so we got all that done, and leveled it, ran it on regular bake and it worked just fine.  Yesterday (on Thanksgiving!) I put our little bitty turkey breast in it and put it on convection roast, then didn't check it for an hour and a half -- by which time it should have been nearly done.  And it was barely warm.  The oven was definitely not up to temperature and there was a slight smell of gas.  Not enough to feel dangerous, but just a slight whiff.

So I switched it over to the probe (which worked great!), got that done, baked the rolls, and we are calling GE to come out and take a look at it also.  The convection part hasn't worked clearly well the whole time we've had it, but I thought it might be because it wasn't level or we didn't have it in place correctly -- but all that's been corrected and still not working great.  So they'll be coming out, too.  All things considered, not too bad for everything we've worked on.  But both of these are major appliances (the stove cost over 3,000 dollars) and they should be working flawlessly.  Hopefully it will just take a visit and get it all cleared up.

We enjoyed Thanksgiving with our little half done kitchen and our mini-Thanksgiving dinner!  We went to see Catching Fire afterwards (a holiday tradition to see a movie after dinner). 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Backsplash/Tile wall

We've been consistently working on getting this kitchen remodel into the final stages, and this past weekend we got the tile and installed it on the back wall.  Shopping for tile was one of those tough decisions - we wanted travertine to match the sink, so those would tie together, but so many choices!  The tile we'd looked at in the past were sheets of mosaic in a nice linear pattern that we'd thought of putting in vertically instead of horizontally. 

(Notice the broken tiles in the sheet above)

 We also considered this tile for texture, but all the installation pieces showed how visible the individual seams appeared.  And the texture could have been a problem considering that this would also be behind the stove.  We don't want to keep dust and airborne grease specks trapped in this -- so we rejected this one.

We ended up getting the tiles in the first photo - but as we went through, so many of the tiles were broken.  We had to pick through all the boxes to find sheets in good shape - and since we were buying around 500 dollars worth of tile, we wanted them perfect, of course.  After got them all loaded on the cart, an employee came by and told us if we wanted to buy the sheets that had broken pieces, they'd give them to us half price.  Ohhhh, tempting -- we could pull out the broken ones and buy a couple extra sheets and fit them in......but, from past experience I know that fitting in individual pieces on mosaic sheets is a lot of hassle, and often it's difficult to get everything to lie flat.  So we decided to just make it easier on ourselves and buy the nicest tiles available.

The wall needed a bit of touch up sanding in spots, but we got going quickly enough.  These things always take longer than we think, so I didn't want to delay.

 I worked from the flat outer wall, left to right, so I could have a perfect edge to start.  I got one vertical row done, nice spacers all placed, but this tile is SO heavy that it was just sagging so much -- so instead of using spacers, I used finish nails and propped each tile up on several rows.  This worked great, and held the tiles right where I wanted them.  This way, I could maintain nice horizontal lines.

Dale had to get an action shot of me getting the tiles in place!

We love how it came out!  This is before grout (which I finished last night), and you can see the apparently random support tiles I added in where the vent is going.  The vent was the other project we thought we'd have all done this weekend -- we got it all put up, and when we hooked up the electrical -- nothing.  We tried multiple connections, used our testing tools, and it appears that the switch is bad.  We called all the help lines, and we were told to just take it down and bring it back to IKEA.  Which was WRONG.  We brought it back, and the returns employee was sympathetic, but said they do not take returns on installed items, we had to call the Whirlpool (who makes IKEA appliances) repair and have them come out and fix it.  So they will be here tomorrow.  But in the meantime, we thought it would be good to get the tile in and I placed a few pieces to support some of the brackets so they don't bend when we tighten the hanging screws.  So hopefully, today we get the vent installed AGAIN, and Dale is going to get the venting in place as well.  We opted to go out the wall instead of the roof, since our roof is in such bad condition and it would be easy to go straight out here on this outside wall. 

Kind of hard to see in the early morning light!

I also have a couple of shelves to put up here to the right of the vent, but I want to wait on getting those put up until I decide how long to make them -- I don't want the wall to look crowded now that we can see how pretty the tile wall looks!

(can't get the image turned vertically, blogger is giving me some grief this morning)

Finally -- now that we are done tiling, we can sell our trusty tile saw.  We got it for a hundred dollars, and have saved a fortune on rentals.  We'd like to sell it for a bit of a profit -- we did put a new blade on it (which cost 50 dollars), so it'd be nice to get that back, too. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

And now we're working on the pantry...

We spent this week getting a big old hole cut in the side of the house so we could build a bump-out for our pantry.  We used a grinder to cut the stucco, then knocked all of that out, and then built a block foundation --

and then framed it out --

Ok, that foundation isn't the prettiest thing ever, but it is strong and does the trick.  Besides, it'll be covered with stucco soon enough!

Then we slid the pantry cabinet box in place and leveled and secured it.   The cats of course, were interested:

 They will always take advantage of a new place to view the world.

 This morning, I test fit the microwave and got the hinges put on so I could be sure things will all fit correctly. When we did the narrow cabinet next to the refrigerator, we changed the drawers several times because we didn't pay attention to the hinges.  So we're trying to learn from our errors.

I've decided to put the microwave in this cabinet, so we will need to install an outlet, which we are going to do before getting the stucco done.  We are also going to take advantage of all this wiring work and put in an exterior outlet as well, since we've already run the wiring.

I did the "crawl under the house" duties this morning before I went to work --

I figured it was my turn. Dale's done it often enough.
So tomorrow we'd like to finish the wiring and get the exterior framing complete.  After that, I can get the draws built and in, and maybe we can empty the rest of these boxes.  We have plenty of storage once this gets done.

We also picked up some more drywall, now that this is in, we can finish dry-walling the beam and supports (we wanted to be sure everything fit first).  Also, I am going to take out the pocket door so we can frame that part of the wall in on the table side.  I've got plans to rework the entry since we'll have enough space to put a bench as well as the bookshelf we've got in that area.  Always something to do!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Greenhouse window

Although we got most of the greenhouse window finished yesterday, by the time we were done it was too dark to take pictures. And this morning, I got up early and caulked and did touch up paint, so here are the beauty shots:

The cats have enjoyed the  new window.  They've jumped up on the shelf a couple times, I imagine the novelty will wear off soon.  We ordered a shelf for the top row, it'll be in tomorrow.

It is so cheery in the morning with the sun shining through!

 When we first picked it up, we were afraid that it would stick too far out into the driveway, but it works just fine.  Now, if we can just get rid of that horrible window AC.  It's on the list, but I'm waiting to find a window that matches our other front window. I think having 3 different style windows in this one room is a bit much.

For a free, used window, it looks pretty darn nice!  I do have a few places to add some silicon caulking, there are some water spots that indicate a couple of the corners may have had a bit of a leak.  Luckily, we rarely get any rain, so even if it does leak a little, it will just run down the wall and out.  

Well, we certainly have much more to do in the room (tile the backsplash, install counters, install vent hood), but this window looks really cheery.

So naturally, we got started on the next project on the list - building a bump-out for our pantry.  We determined how much of a space we need so we can enclose the pantry just beside the door to the back  yard -- and we went out and marked where we needed to cut the stucco in order to frame it out.  We got that part done last night:

Using a grinder, Dale cut through the stucco and that's where we left it.  This morning, we went out and banged away on the stucco to break it up so we could tear it out --

You can see that under the face coat is a layer of wire mesh, we had to cut that out as well --

 And then a layer of tar paper and wire ---

So now we have it all cleared out and ready to build a foundation.

We hope to have the blocks set by the end of today so they can set up overnight!

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Trim around the island

Got up early and cut the molding along the floor on both the island and the base cabinets along the wall --

I do still have some minor caulking to do here and there, but now the island looks like a piece of furniture instead of a bunch of boxes nailed together.  Now the floor is really bothering me, I think I am going to lightly stain those oak boards so they blend in a little better - I wasn't going to do anything with them because we want to sand down the rest of the floor and refinish it all, and will be staining a little darker -- but it looks so crappy right now, so I'm going to do something with them --

The dishwasher surround took a bit of managing, but it makes the whole area look so much better --

Still up in the air about the white section -- We don't actually ever change any of the settings, so we might just paint over the whole thing and then just have a picture for reference in case I ever do decide to change any of them.

So we have a whole other list of projects, and this weekend is a 3-day weekend.  So we decided to get started on another project: working on the greenhouse window.  First thing we did was remove the old crappy sliding window.  Which was held in by 3 screws.  That popped right out, and we wanted to enlarge the opening a little, so we cut down 4" and reinstalled a new base plate.  We rebuilt the sides and went outside to cut the stucco away.

We stapled plastic over the opening while he was cutting the stucco so we didn't get the house full of dust.  After rebuilding the opening, it was surprising to see how big the hole looked -- considering it was barely taller, it looks so much larger without the slider mechanism breaking it up.

The window itself we actually got free on Craigslist -- I had been looking for one that was similar in size to our window - we didn't really want to alter the size much since we have a stove to one side and a refrigerator on the other, and so when this one was listed, I jumped on it.  It was a different style than what I had been seeing - this one was attached on the wall outsisde the window -- which allows us not to alter the opening to fit it.  It's taller than the opening, which is fine, and it fits just right across.

Here it is looking all filthy and gross, like it's been sitting in our garage for the past couple of months:

It had a piece of broken granite in the base when we picked it up, and it was missing a shelf.  The lady who gave it to us actually broke it between the time we called her about it and when we arrived to pick it up - she felt really bad, but it's a 10 dollar fix, so no problem.  I went over the seams with silicon to be sure it stays water tight.

I had this window pinned to my Pinterest board for the past year or two:

I liked the outside mount, so this one fits well with what I like.  Ours is not so elegant, but this one here cost about 3000 dollars, so for the price, we're doing fine.

We did get it mostly installed today, but the sun went down before we got it all finished off -- so I didn't get any pictures.  In the morning, we have some more details to get to, and I'll get finish pictures then.  I wasn't going to add the inside trim just yet since we still have to tile the wall, but I might go ahead and at least tack it up so I can get the full effect.  We let the cats out of the bedroom (they were locked up while there was a large opening all afternoon), and as soon as they came out, they jumped up in the window to check it out.  I'm looking forward to filling our little greenhouse window with succulents!

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Kitchen island

We've been working on the island this week -- got the cabinet boxes installed, the additional framing for the dishwasher built, and a temporary plywood counter top installed.  This counter top may have to be here for a couple of months, so we got some nice smooth 3/4" plywood.

After we got the dishwasher in, I remembered how much I hated the look of it.  We've decided to hold off on getting a new stainless one, since it's not very visible and the one we have is working and free.  But it's white and cheap looking.
(Oh yea, we also got the faucet installed.  I've wanted a bridge style faucet, and I got a good deal on one on

Building the surround required that we drill into our newly installed marble floor - but that went a lot easier than I had anticipated.  And that damned ugly dishwasher -- I opened it up and saw that the front was attached by a few screws, so I took it off --

I was inspired by my daughter, who spray painted the doors on her washer and dryer -- so I used some silver hammerite finish spray on the panel, and used satin black on the plastic top part and kick plate.  I used Rustoleum satin - it bonds to anything and the finish is great.

After putting it all back together, it isn't perfect (I had to leave the instruction part of the controls white, and I totally forgot to spray the latch, but after I put it back together, I realized it looks OK).  Anyway, it'll do until we get our  new one down the line.  It sure beats the ugly white.  Maybe I can figure out a way to spray the rest of it black and add some decals or something for the controls.  That purple wall in the background is where our pantry cabinet will go in the near future ---
sink inspected and approved by resident help

I've been working on getting the molding all cut to size, and stained and finished and ready to attach.  This is a longer process - applying stain, using steel wool to smooth the finish, more layers of stain, then a coat of poly -- all with 5-6 hours of drying in between, but now it's ready to go --
It's a nice shade and matches the cabinets very closely.

So since then, we've been working on cutting the panels to fit the outside of all the boxes.  This turned out to be a lot more complicated than I thought it would be.  Some of the panels we had were 3/4" thick and some were 1/2" thick - and we had to piece them for the longer sides and the center of the seating area.  It was a pain, but we like the way they came out:

 The seams are not horribly noticeable -- I did have to mix a custom fill to match the finish, but it's nearly invisible --

We added an outlet to one side of the island for any appliances we might want to use (mixer or blender).  You can see the faint seam here, before I've filled and cleaned it.  It's pretty slight, and it nearly disappears when I get the filler in.
I'm looking forward to working on getting the molding around the base done - that will help enormously in tying the whole thing together.  We've had all kinds of second thoughts about the layout of interior space in this island -- we ended up returning the shelves we had originally thought to put on the sink side, and instead went with three drawers.  Right now everything is pretty full because we still have a major pantry cabinet to install, but since that takes some exterior work (we're bumping out one of the back walls to enclose the pantry cabinet), we're just using what we've got at hand.  One of the things I really like about these IKEA cabinets is the versatility - if we decide to return to shelves and a door, it's just a matter of pulling out the drawers and putting in a new configuration.  We've been taking off the doors when we go to add the side panels -- click click and the hinges click off.  So easy!

Anyway -- it's getting closer to looking somewhat like a real kitchen.  Not that we don't have a ton of work left, but at least it's functional now.  I made actual dinner twice this week! Love having my sink back.


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