28 August 2011

Kitchen Remodel: One Full Week

It has been a full week. Today is Sunday. Work began last Monday and continued through this afternoon.

Here's the colorful corner where the oven used to be, and will be again some day:

I love this photo compositionally. It shows where the stove hood will vent through the roof:

At this stage the small deck off the kitchen, soon to be enclosed, was a lawsuit waiting to happen. Good thing we hadn't planned a cocktail party for that evening:

Instead, Jer and I entertained ourselves by peeling paint, like sunburn:

One of our minor irritants over the years has been how easily the kitchen walls bruised. Obviously they weren't properly prepped before that bright yellow paint went on. We'll do it right this time.

Despite the amount of stuff the Rebuilding Center is taking off our hands, the dumpster was already full after a couple of days of work. I didn't see it go out, but I'll bet this tile, wherever it came from, must have added a special zing to the kitchen predating ours -- or maybe the one before that:

By Wednesday afternoon, when I last blogged, demo was complete and framing had begun. The impacted areas were almost down to studs, boards and subfloor. Speaking of which, late in the day, we -- by which I mean Steve and Les, the framer -- discovered another artifact of the earlier remodel, in which the kitchen was bumped out over a portion of the deck to create a dining nook: The old decking was still there. This caused some consternation, until we (same "we" as above) discovered that the underlying joists did, in fact, meet code. Whew; major win. The redwood stain is very similar to what Jerry and I chose for the backyard deck we put in.

Deck (left); former deck, a.k.a. dining nook subfloor (right):

Dining nook flooring, seen from below. It was disconcerting to stand in the yard and look up into the kitchen:

Thursday morning, I decided to git outta Dodge. Actually, this was a long-planned three-day excursion to Tacoma with my fiber arts pals. Our plan was to take in the APWQ show, as well as a couple of galleries and museums. We had a great time; I'm sure Gerrie and/or Terry will blog about it soon, if they haven't already.

The highlight of the trip, for me, was the Museum of Glass, especially the hot shop, where visitors can watch molten glass turned into vessels and other objects. I could have spent hours there. As it was, Jerry called in mid-performance; there was another design issue to resolve, this time involving the steps from the kitchen to the garage. I won't bore you with the details; not now, anyway. We worked it out.

By the time I got home last evening, the treacherous rail-less deck was gone. The space is now the southwest corner of our enlarged kitchen. If you look closely at the following pic, you can make out, just to the right of the big square window, the framing for the door that will lead to the new deck and the two corner windows above where the sink will go. All those dangly bits represent plumbing and electrical wiring, most of which will have to be relocated:

Here's what it looks like from the outside:

The other major change in my absence was that the pantry had been framed out to support the extended kitchen floor, eliminating the annoying step down to that area. Note the entombment of the old linoleum, which had lined the bottom of the pantry as well; we've left something for future remodelers to discover. To the left (below) is the base of the old pantry. To the right, the new framing. Beyond that, a sheer drop to the garage floor:

Going from living room to basement kitchen and back, last night and this morning, with occasional forays into the garage: not fun. But the inconvenience was short-lived. By this afternoon (yes, Sunday), the floor was level out through the pantry area:

And we had stairs again, of sorts:

The entire staircase to the basement will have to be rebuilt, and that's going to be a mess, since it'll impinge on our temporary setup downstairs. But that's a few days off. For now, it's navigable, though that first step is a doozy:

23 August 2011

Kitchen Remodel: Daze 1 and 1.5

Living without a kitchen for several weeks will be challenging. But preparing for the experience has been friggin' exhausting. Let's hear it for ripe tomatoes.

After clearing out and storing all our non-essential paraphernalia -- why do we own so much stuff? -- I turned my awesome organizational skills toward setting up the field kitchen downstairs. The main expanse is normally my studio work table. Before I retired, it functioned as my office desk, easily accomodating a computer, printer, and flatbed scanner, with plenty of room left over. Now the microwave, toaster and toaster oven are at one end, the cutting board and general prep area at the other. Desk, you have served us well.

Elsewhere in the finished basement, we set up a breakfast cart, bar, and -- in a corner that's always been underutilized -- a gracious dining room:

Upstairs, in our so-called dressing room -- which doubles as a cat-art gallery and triples as my yoga space -- we established the animal feeding and treat station. Their accustomed bowls are arrayed around the perimeter of the room. In the morning the cats come in and stretch with me.

The official start of the job was marked by the arrival, mid-yesterday, of the dumpster and porta-potty:

Steve spent several hours digging through heavy clay to prepare the foundation for the new deck supports. China Rose conducted the pre-inspection:

I'm hoping my Marathon conifer, which is now over six feet tall, survives the framing and other outside work. Perhaps my festive pink ribbon will protect it:

As soon as Steve's truck pulled into the driveway this morning, Jerry and I began unloading the refrigerator. Steve and a helper then carried it to the garage, where it'll live for the duration. (That's the dishwasher, which we'll reinstall, behind it in the photo). I carted essential foodstuffs -- I love that word -- to the smaller fridge that lives downstairs, conveniently adjacent to our temporary kitchen, and shlepped items we probably won't be using for a while -- pancake syrup, whole wheat flour, exotic seeds and grains -- to the one in the garage. This sort of logistical triage is every bit as tiring as the multiple trips up and down stairs.

So much for prep; on to the remodel itself. How's that going? Well before noon, the old cabinets and some other fixtures were in the garage, awaiting pickup by the Rebuilding Center.

I forgot to post a "before" picture earlier of the beam that runs east-west through the kitchen, a remnant of an earlier remodel. The original owners of our house sacrificed a portion of their kitchen deck -- sort of similar to what we're doing -- and bumped out to create a dining area. The beam will go, and the ceiling will be raised to match the height of the rest of the room. This alteration, which we wouldn't have imagined was possible -- and thanks to Jack Barnes, our architect, for pointing out the potential -- is going to make a huge difference.

Note the darker yellow paint splotches on the wall. It would never have occured to me to paint the kitchen yellow -- I'm a blue-green person and still somewhat averse to red and orange in my personal environment -- but the people we bought the house from thought differently. Combined with the bright green floor, it made me smile every time I walked into the room, especially during our grim, gray winters. So we're sticking with yellow walls, though a darker shade to harmonize better with the new floor, cabinet and countertop colors.

Jer and I snuck into the construction zone while the guys were on lunch break. We're already down to the walls. The first photo was the stove area, the second one the sink. Amazing.

19 August 2011

Here We Go Again

We're all getting over Rachel's death, including Max and Shelly, who've resumed laying on a regular basis. I've started letting them free-range in the back yard, under close supervision. Amazingly, both cats and dog are supremely nonchalant in the presence of the uncaged hens. Maybe they're just biding their time, though I doubt it; Stella Luna seems a little cowed, if anything, and I've seen Shelly deliver a sharp, admonitory peck 'longside Sophie's head when the pup seemed way too interested in sniffing chicken butt.

We'll probably add to the flock at some point, but right now, we're preoccupied with our impending kitchen remodel. This will be a big one. We've done several other home improvement projects since moving here six years ago, and in Berkeley we added an entire storey to our house. But this is the first time our kitchen will be totally offline for several weeks.

The plan is to expand to the southwest, sacrificing the existing small deck off the kitchen, and building a replacement just to the east, under the big square south-facing window. In this view from the back yard, the deck is to the left, in shadow:

The sink will move to that southwest corner. New cabinets, quartz countertop and Marmoleum (tm) flooring. New fridge, too, though we're keeping most of the other appliances. They're not that old, they work well, and why add to the landfill?

We're also planning to eliminate the step down to the existing pantry at the top of the basement stairs, and to expand that area slightly, taking over part of the garage. This will involve rebuilding the stairs, but we think it'll be worth the additional expense and inconvenience. The photos show the current pantry (note the lovely grain on that plywood door) and the area of the garage that will be affected:

A couple of major design considerations have been the bulky old Hoosier cabinet -- our baking center, which I love -- and the hanging pot rack, which can't go just anywhere. We think we've found good solutions for both. (The painting in the pic below is a recent birthday gift; it's by a New Mexico artist and friend named Mary Carter.)

Our prep got underway a couple of weeks ago and has focused on two main fronts: Clearing stuff out of the impact zones -- the south end of the garage, the cabinets under the stairs, and of course the kitchen itself -- and setting up a field kitchen in the basement, using Jerry's workbench, my big studio desk, and a six-foot folding table in the guest room, for cookware, appliances, and foodstuffs, respectively.

We already have a small refrigerator downstairs, and the main one will move to the garage for the duration, to be replaced toward the end of the project. This morning we moved four large containers of tomato plants from the driveway, on which contractor trucks will have dibs, to the walkway. This is looking to be a not-bad year for tomatoes, but that's another blog post...

At this point the space is pretty well stripped:

Kitchenware is piled in and on every available out-of-the-way nook and surface, especially in the guest room. Sorry, Casa Jereva is undergoing renovation and is not accepting bookings til October:

We're down to the very basics -- food and utensils for breakfast, lunch, and a couple more catchall dinners upstairs, plus Jerry's margarita makings and my coffee setup.

The project begins Monday morning with some outside concrete work; the kitchen itself won't be breached until Tuesday. But by then we'll be cleared out and ready to roll, logistically if not emotionally.

Speaking of which, we haven't yet told the cats. But their environment has been shifting slowly, day by day, so they surely know something's up. Here are a few more pix from shortly before their lives were thrown into chaos: