It takes forEVER


We are in the home stretch!  You wouldn’t know that by looking, but we are ‘this close’ to being done.

Its been awhile since I posted anything about the kitchen remodel.  At some point it seems to be the new normal and I stop thinking of the milestones.

So, randomly, here are some things that have happened…


I wanted white rocketship styled lights aiming up (for less than $300/ea, if you don’t mind)

Lights were installed.  I couldn’t find the uplighting I wanted – a modern, rocketship shaped light – so we settled on these sleek black ones.  We might paint them later on, depending on how soon we do, or don’t, get used to seeing them.

I tell our clients to never buy light fixtures from Lowe’s or Home Depot, but of course, we do exactly that.  Basically, 1 in 4 lights are bad, for some reason, and we have to exchange it.


There’s that 1 in 4 light that didn’t work…

But, I couldn’t find the lights I wanted elsewhere – especially for a reasonable price – so, Lowe’s is where we bought these lights.


They were hanging slightly crooked, you can see that in the photo, and Rick was trying to straighten them and busted the shade.  Back to the store for a replacement.  Installation of that went well until we flicked on the switch and…nothing…Rick checked the bulbs, the wiring.  Of course it was the fixture itself.  Fortunately, my handyman had saved the workings of the busted lamp and swapped it out with the bad light fixture.  Happy days!

The lamps are above the island and to avoid any issues with lights not be exACTly the same height – since they are mounted on a vaulted ceiling – they are hung at different heights!  Brilliant, right?  He figured out how to straighten them, even.

We have ceiling can lights over the sink area.  If we need more light, we’ll add it later.  Oh, we are going to add lights under the cabinets, so that will be good task lighting.

On the subject of electrical wiring, we always have something weird going on.  One of the dimmable switches isn’t dimming…one of the switches turns off in the up position and on in the down position, but it looks to be wired properly, oh and another switch only turns off in the middle position.  Just more items for the punch list (which is what they call the list of stuff to be fixed).


There’s a little slider to the right of the switch lever for dimming.

The flooring was installed last week.  Apparently, we were a few feet short on our purchase of eucalyptus 5 years ago…or else the previous installer was a little inefficient with his installation.  In any case, we have a couple areas with shorter-than-normal boards…if you see them, pretend you don’t.   I went online to see if I could find eucalyptus flooring and the only stuff they had was coffee-colored or darker.


Area to be feathered in, old with the new


Post-feathering.  I might not have chosen that dark board to go right there, but at least it shows how perfectly the post matches the floor…

And, then there are the areas that are uneven…but we have that in the rest of the house, too, even though we didn’t feel or see any low/high areas back before we moved in…you can feel them now.   Could it be dry rot?  Maybe, but that’s something for my future self to deal with, ha!


This is George Thompson – he is a Jack-of-all-Trades – did the floor, a bunch of demo and also the new framing.  We’ll be calling him back to help rebuild our deck.

Again, you feel those spots, you ignore them.  Just like you’re going to ignore the drywall patching area that looks terrible.  We took a wall out at that spot.  We’ll put the grandfather clock in front of it, you’ll comment on the antique clock and overlook the bumpy area above it.


Is that not pretty?

The counters were measured for the tops 2 weeks ago.  They were supposed to be installed today.  The company has a more important order from McDonalds so we are being pushed out…aargh…very irritating.  This is the ONLY local company that installs the product I want, which means I’m stuck.

I didn’t take a photo of the guy doing the measuring, which was dumb.  He takes slim, long wood veneer and places it where the edge of the counter tops would be on the cabinets and island, creating a big template that he clamps and glues together.  He took the template and the sinks back to the shop with him where the counters will be manufactured and the sinks mounted to the underside.

Then he returns and installs the counters and grinds the holes for the faucets.

After THAT, we can put the fridge and stove in place, install the dishwasher, garbage disposer and microwave and its exhaust hood and install the backsplash.


Under the sink, awaiting appliance installation

I originally wanted a garbage disposal in both sinks but Rick was having an issue re placement of the switch for it.  There’s not enough room in the backsplash area.  They have new-fangled counter-top button switches for them now but Rick wasn’t overly excited by that.  So I’d have to have 1 switch in the cabinet under the sink and then in the backsplash beside the sink for the other of them.  Then we realized that we have a built-in compost bin next to one of the sinks.  Problem solved.  I don’t think we’ll use the garbage disposal much anyway with the compost bin.


{screams like a little girl} Built in trash, recycling and compost bin!!!

After the counters are installed, the cabinet people return to add trim, cabinet pulls and the post wrap and caps.

And all by the Fourth of July, right?  RIGHT?!?  maybe…maybe not.  I’m not gonna fret, life is too short to be upset by stuff I have NO control over.  And I have control over so very little in the grand scheme of things.

I’m lucky to have a handy husband who wants to have a nice kitchen and who doesn’t know how to sit still!  He actually thinks its fine that I’m sitting and doing this instead of painting something or cooking something or sewing something.  Woot-woot!


After scooting around on the floor pulling old staples out…dusty butt print!



I have one job…

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Last weekend we got the area ready for the drywall people.

The insulation is in and the electrical wiring is updated/moved/augmented – or rather, the other way around!  Can’t do electrical stuff very easily if the insulation is in the way.

I am a perfect helper!  I stand and wait for Rick to say ‘hand me those pliers, blue tape, wrench, power stapler’!  I say:

“I have one job on this lousy ship….” GalaxyQuest is one of my fave movies!!

I am also at the ready to get this bundle un-caught from the many places it finds to get trapped:


The cord is just the right length to get snagged on everything within reach.


Stapling insulation into place


I’m holding a rod that is holding the insulation in place for Rick to staple it


This is a $30 valve for the water supply to the fridge ice-maker.  Rick tried valiantly to save $30 by doing something else but ended up doing this anyway.  Goof…


Cooking chicken teriyaki meatballs on the George Foreman Grill!   These are the leftovers…

Tomorrow the drywall’ers will begin their work, which will taken about 5 days, then the cabinets can be installed!  Oh, pooh, and I haven’t even picked the counter tops yet!!

On a side note:  We had a huge swarm of bees at work last week!  I walked into our back entry and saw a lot of bees bouncing against the windows.  I was, like, what the heck?!?  I looked outside and saw this monstrous cloud of them all circling around a tree and also meandering around everywhere else.  They came in through the open back door and an office window (its an old crank window that opens outward and doesn’t have a screen, if you really want to know).  I was going around catching them in a paper cup and releasing them back into the wild.   They’re bees, not spiders which deserve to be swooped up into a kleenex and flushed down the potty until they are dead……but I digress…

One of our clients is a beekeeper.  He called some of his family to come take the hive.  Its sitting on top of our compost bin waiting for the queen to gather her worker bees to their new home, then the whole kit n kaboodle will be taken to their new ‘forever home’.  awwww…


Such good little drones – following their queen wherever she goes.

Day # infinity (or so it seems)

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Today is Monday.  The wind has picked up and the outside layer of plastic across the openings has been ballooning in and out since its installation late Saturday.  I’ve put chairs against both sides to try and keep the edges from ripping.  So far, so good.  The windows might be installed tomorrow, so the tarp only needs to hold for another 36 hours’ish.  Best laid plans and all that jazz, right?


This was the sky on Saturday…darkness was headed our way!  Rain for sure!


Flimsy barrier against the weather

I’m going in to the office soon and Rick will be at the house til Wednesday night.  He’ll put in a full day of work Thursday, meetings mostly, and then back to it on Friday.  Lots to do on all fronts!


Nasty insulation.  Itchy but not carcinogenic asbestos.

We hired 2 guys from People Ready to demo, and they were here Saturday and 1 is back for the rest of the week.  We’ve got 1 framer from PR here today through Friday…hoping that the house is then fully enclosed and we can work on electrical, drywall, floors, and suchlike over the next 3 weeks until the cabinets get installed.  There will still be work to do after than.  We estimate we won’t be finished until the end of May.


Joe, Ben and Rick

Its been cold – not East Coast cold, thank heaven –  and we’ve been going through firewood like mad.  We’re consuming our own house, well, the old one, anyway.  The wood is so dry there’s hardly any ash and it burns fast.  Its supposed to warm up this week with no rain, so that’s helpful.


Nails and all into the fireplace…

I cooked chicken & prosciutto tortellini on side burner of the BBQ grill on Saturday and fixed salads.  Sunday was pizza, comfort food for Rick after busting his butt all day on Saturday.  Lovely day of rest for him yesterday, although he kept saying he should do SOMEthing…he was pretty pooped, so he ended up puttering around.


Piano nicely protected, fridge in the living room, extra storage UNDER the piano for patio furniture cushions and pillows…

Did the dishes in the bathroom yesterday…it worked out fine!  Except for the ‘don’t anyone use this bathroom until the dishes are dry and put away!’ thing.  I can only handle doing dishes in the bathroom if no one is actually using the bathroom for its intended purpose.  Otherwise…ewwww.  The sink is large enough for rinsing and I’ve got a big plastic bin for hot, soapy water.   I’m pouring out the old dishwater over some geranium plants that I don’t like.  Let’s just see how hardy they are…nothing else seems to kill them.

I was going to buy a dish drainer until Rick remembered that there had been a little one on our boat, Ms Maggie – blog for Ms Maggie is here – and I’d put it in the Salvation Army box but had been too lazy to take the box over there.

Kudos to me for being a slowpoke!

The drywall and siding is removed, the windows and doors are gone, old linoleum and particle board is being dug off the subfloor as we speak – as I type, that is.


Backbreaking work…this is George – he’ll be doing more of what he’s been hired to do (framing things) when Rick gets back from Lowe’s.

There were 3 loads of cr*p hauled to the dump/recycling yesterday.  So much detritus!  Nothing reusable because of the age of the windows – they are all single-pane.  Not good for energy saving, at all.  The cabinets were smelly, so no good for reuse there, either.   The only thing we’re keeping is what we can burn…that sounds weird.  We hired TM Hauling out of Brentwood and he and his partner did a great job.  They’ll be back on Saturday to haul more for us and for our neighbor, too.


Everything plus the kitchen sink!

It feels weird not to be helping the guys with their work.  I’m so used to pitching in.  This time, though, I’d be a hindrance, so better that I keep out of the way.  I’m helping more by doing nothing…that’s a pathetic statement.  Now I really feel useless 😉


Kitchen ceiling before…ugly fluorescent light box


There’s a vaulted ceiling up there!  Lo!  And behold!

Getting it ready for demo

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The next step, now that every darn thing is packed or stacked or shoved into corners, is to remove the appliances from the kitchen.


Coffee bar tucked between the pool table and the atrium.  You can see the protective paper taped down to the floor on the bottom right.

The photo above shows our new ‘coffee bar’ area, since the counter will be gone soon and we can’t be without our lovely morning ritual of having coffee and looking out onto Shell Bay.


How pathetic it looks now.  I guess it always looked that way but we put up with it.  Ugh.  Ugh, ugh and double ugh!

The oven and the microwave are now in the garage, shelves and knobs have been removed from the cabinets.  There’s a last load of dishes in the dishwasher, then it gets stored in the garage, too.


Oven & microwave, plus a window…

The side of the house has the new windows and patio doors plus a growing pile of stuff for the hauler.


Speaking of which, we’ve made some phone calls to try to get someone to help with the demo and with the framing.  No joy yet, but there’s time.  And if we have to do it ourselves, think of the money we’ll save!  I am such a Pollyanna.  Give me a big pile of poop and I’ll get a shovel cuz I’m sure there’s a pony in there somewhere!

Rick is antsy, which is why we started this weekend instead of next weekend.  He doesn’t want to have to be scrambling to get things done before the cabinets arrive.  Smart.

He’s put down a protective layer of carpet on our eucalyptus wood floors and put up tarps to try to keep the dust from invading the rest of the house – but it will anyway, hateful insidious dust.


Gray protective carpet and hanging plastic is in place.

The fridge will be moved to 1 location and then another as work progresses in different spaces – no icemaker for awhile, which might actually be the hardest thing for Rick to endure!

Just in case we want to cook on the BBQ or George Foreman Grill (don’t laugh), I’ve got a variety of utensils and tools, pots and pans available.  Its not like we rented a POD to stash everything so I thought I might as well make those items accessible, right?


Master bedroom – I started with a plan but then it kinda went to pot


Crockpot, grill, pantry items – middle bedroom closet


Boxes of dishes, pans, mugs, glassware, vases, serving dishes – middle bedroom


Dining table on the bed and who knows what else!  Oh, the silverware tray is in there somewhere – front bedroom


Dishes, cooking utensils, barstools – front bedroom

Anyway, this weekend might be the calm before the storm.  Construction projects while we’re living in the house can be tiresome and will probably make me stabby.

There a bottle of Riesling in the fridge (thank you, Natasha!) and I kept out some wine glasses, in case of emergency.  I hope I can find the bottle opener 😉



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Once again its ‘into the fray’ of a remodel.  The kitchen is the victim, er, beneficiary, this time.

The kitchen cabinets had been painted white from their original dark brown.  The counters are bumpy beige tile.  Which isn’t bad in and of itself.  I might have actually chosen that tile in a past life but the ultra-wide dark brown nasty-looking grout has got to go.  Chips, cracks, missing pieces, chunks glued back into place, yeah, that’s a sign the tile has lived past its useful life.

The cabinets screech when you open them and they were made with wood processed with chemicals that are illegal now because they eventually put out unhealthy gases and smell dank and musty.  I have scented candles in every one of them.  The first few months after we moved in I placed jars of vinegar inside them, which was supposed to help reduce the odor, ugh.


The divided enamel sink has chips, scars and rust and the bowls are too small to fit my skillet in it – in them…but skillet in it was more fun to say.

The floor is a lovely beigy yellowy pinky browny flowery thing.  I think it was still in perfect condition until we put the fridge back after painting the room, then we ripped it.  Oh, bother!

Rick has been contemplating a new kitchen for quite awhile.  Its that old domino effect we keep talking about.  Besides the tired cabinets and floor, the windows leak air and need to be replaced – the patio door also scrapes like fingernails down a chalkboard (one of my absolute favorite sounds of all time) and the fridge is on the water side of the kitchen, blocking a pretty fine view.


View from our back deck – that’s Ms Maggie, our 34′ trawler.  Don’t look at the poor pontoon boat, that’s yet another project to be done.

So, once you decide to replace the windows and patio door, you look at the fridge and think, what a stupid place for a fridge in a home with a view.  So you want to move the fridge but there isn’t another spot for it unless you move something else and then that keeps on going until, Voila, you’ve redone the entire kitchen!

And that doesn’t include the ceiling work.  The kitchen ceiling is low with one of those modern grids of fluorescent lights behind brittle and yellowed plastic panels.  Modern for 1980, anyway.  Rick wants to vault that entire kitchen ceiling like the living room.  That’s my man, never one to go 1/2 way!



A few weekends ago we took plans to a cabinet shop in Brentwood, Precision Cabinets…more on that process later.

Last weekend I packed up all (or most) of the kitchen that we won’t need during the project.   I kept out 1 skillet, 1 larger and 1 smaller pot.  I have a George Foreman grill that my mom gave me awhile ago and we have an outdoor BBQ.  We also have a quesadilla maker and a waffle maker and a popcorn maker and 2 crock pots (yes, I often use 2 at a time) those are going into storage!  Well, I’m keeping one of the crock pots at the ready.

Some of the utensils stay out and the rest of them go into storage – spoons, spatulas, mashers, peelers, graters, did you know I have 2 wine bottle openers?  I didn’t.  Only need 1 of those.  We’ll be doing dishes in the bathtub, oh, joy.




All my ‘good’ dishes go into storage, most of the forks, spoons and such.  All of the crystal wineglasses, I’m keeping out two plastic palm tree wineglasses (ha!).  Enough coffee mugs to feed (beverage?) an army all go into storage.


I don’t need a ‘banana saver’

You know what’s gonna happen, right?  I’ll never get most of those items OUT of storage.  I’ll decide I didn’t need them for that long, so I’ll get rid of them!  Maybe its just a hope that I can downsize some…

The kitchen stuff we need to keep on hand will go in bins or baskets on shelving in one of the bedrooms, so convenient!

We bought our appliances about 18 months ago.  So that’s keeping our costs down this year, spreading out the financial pain over a few years.   And when we had the floors done before we moved in, we bought enough of the product to do the kitchen floors, too!  That’s thinking ahead!

Two bedrooms are now an embarrassment of boxes piled up.  This weekend we’ll put down the protection for the existing wood floor and tarp off the rooms getting messy from the rooms that aren’t in a valiant, but probably vain, attempt to keep them dust free.  We’ll move the dining room table and appliances out to the garage or…somewhere…and the fridge goes…um…somewhere, also, but accessible.  I think the hardest thing for us, honestly, will be to do without the icemaker.  And when I say ‘us’ I mean ‘Rick’.  He’s a crazy person when it comes to ice.


This has been on our fridge for about 30 years!

The actual demo of the old cabinets, ceiling, walls, floor, windows (yikes) won’t begin for about 3 weeks but we’re getting things ready early so we aren’t stressed later – see how smart we are!  I’m almost breaking my arm from patting myself on the back!

I know you want to see how ‘professionals’ deal with home projects of their own.  We didn’t even bother to get quotes from multiple cabinet shops.  We just went to 1 place.  I think our biggest shopping nightmare will be to find the counter tops…I figure if I just don’t change anything I won’t have to live with a possibly wrong decision…what a baby I am.

I’ve made wrong decisions before.  I know, you wonder, seeing me and where we live and the fabulous office building where we work, how that could be possible (ha!).  Some rooms have been painted too darn light because I was afraid of going too dark.  Other things are too boring because I was afraid of bold.  Plus, you have to choose cabinets without having them in the house to look at for awhile first!  A picture or sample of a cabinet door isn’t enough.  But, unless you have scads of money to pay someone build you a mockup, that’s what happens.

Therefore, I went with my heart.  What did I really want to see in my kitchen?  The cabinets are nekkid maple.  Well, the true name is ‘maple clear’.  I want light and airy and open.  Our flooring is a busy wood grain and I figured dark cabinets would pull your eye away from the windows.  I don’t want the cabinets to be the focal point of the house.  Am I right?  I dunno, we’ll have to see.  But I didn’t chicken out this time, I went with my heart 😉


I have a fountain


Our house came with an atrium. In the middle of this atrium is a sad fountain and a bunch of rocks and pebbles.

See what I mean?

See what I mean?

I’ve wanted a fountain for a long time. I guess I over-emphasized my desire for one because one of my kids started pointing out every fountain he saw with “THEY have a fountain!”. Hmmph. This is the same kid that gave me a desktop fountain for Christmas one year – which helped get me through my fountain-crush.

Most people with our floorplan have removed the atrium, turning it into the new kitchen space.
We, however, had once designed a house with an atrium in it, so naturally we embraced the idea wholeheartedly!

We weren’t sure what we wanted in a fountain. I’ve seen some mighty cool fountains where the water burbles up out of the vessel and gently spills over the brim.

Do you think its too big for the space?

Do you think its too big for the space?

Or perhaps we want the fountain to cascade from one vessel to another?

Umm, no.

Umm, no.

This kinda goes with the Tiku Hut theme, yes?

This kinda goes with the Tiku Hut theme, I think.

Well, after pricing fountains (eek), we decided to go with a simple waterfall – no separate water feature after all. The water goes from the pond to the pump, which sends the water to the other side of the atrium and up over the rock shelf into the pond.

Hauling out the fountain.

Hauling out the fountain.

The rocks can be reused so they are wheelbarrowed to the side of the house.

The rocks can be reused so they are wheelbarrowed to the side of the house.


Here's the pond before we added the plants.

You can see the water damage on the siding along the right side of the atrium

Rick installed metal flashing around the atrium below the window sill to minimize water damage. He also replaced the old window sills.

atrium before plants

Here is the atrium before the plants and then as of a few days ago.

That one canna lily off to the left is probably 7 feet tall!

That one canna lily off to the left is probably 7 feet tall! It is THE happiest plant in the atrium.

The rock in the middle of the pond is for the turtle. More on the turtle adventures in another post.

We planted 1 lily in the pond but it promptly died. Stupid lily. I also wanted horsetail but it also lacked courage.

I saw a lovely pond with these very tall lotus in it...I wanted to replicate that - to no avail.

I saw a lovely pond with these very tall lotus in it…I wanted to replicate that – to no avail.

After awhile the lily grew some new leaves underwater, then the leaves disappeared. I am going to hazard a guess that the turtle likes the lily the best? I have left the pot there just in case I get more leaves some day…just in case 😉

Our gorgeous deck!

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I must say that Coastal Lumber did a marvelous job!

Here is what the space looked like before…

ugly, isn't it...

ugly, isn’t it…

and after…

...and the guys who did the work...

…and the guys who did the work…

Here are some ‘during’ shots…

Its scary when a big 'ol truck has to maneuver around our little parking lot!

Its scary when a big ‘ol truck has to maneuver around our little parking lot!

Support posts for the deck.

Support posts for the deck.

Placing the boards on the deck frame.

Placing the boards on the deck frame.

Once it was done, I rolled on a water-resistant stain.  Painting is not my forte.  Not sure what is, exactly, but it definitely is NOT painting.  However, it needed to be done, so I did it.  It doesn’t look half bad.

Now we have added an inexpensive table and chairs and a gazebo for shade.  We spend many lunchtimes out there, sometimes have client meetings and even our clients will use it after meetings to continue their conversations.

Before photo

Before photo

Come and set a spell...

Come and set a spell…

That’s the definition of a well-designed space!  😉

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