We have light!

Once all the walls in the kitchen and bath came down, we had to quickly figure out the electric situation. We knew we needed a new panel. Why? Well, because we had 1950s fuses, similar to this:

  

So we had to upgrade to a circuit breaker box and we figured we would increase the amps while we were at it. 

Mr. Bunches had 3-4 electricians come out to give us quotes on a lot of electrical work. Before the first one arrived, though, we made a plan of everything we wanted done. I even created a detailed list so that we could give it to the electricians and also know that we weren’t forgetting anything:

  
This list is actually shorter than it started–Mr. Bunches found that the original list seemed to scare away some of the electricians. One guy looked at it and said the kitchen alone would cost $8,000-$10,000. To say we had a little panic attack would be putting it mildly. But we just kept getting more electricians in to look at the work and eventually got some real quotes.  

When we were getting quotes, we didn’t know if all the wiring in the kitchen needed to be replaced or not. Here’s a reminder of what it all looked like with the walls down (note all the criss-crossing wires in the ceiling):

  

  

Some of the electricians told us that the whole house basically needed to be rewired. Why?  Because the way these old houses were wired, everything was connected. So there could be an outlet in the kitchen connected to an outlet across the house in one of the bedrooms–taking out the kitchen wiring would mean potentially knocking out the power in the rest of the house. Good to know. 

Most of the electricians came in with pretty similar quotes: $2,800-$3,500 just to replace the panel, and then $2,000-$3,000 for the rest of the work. Ouch. I suggested that we get one last quote from the electrician that did work on our house when we first moved in. Mr. Bunches agreed and we were shocked at how low their cost was: only $2,800 for everything! And they were able to book us the following week. Sold!

Now, I know a lot of you are thinking to yourselves, ‘Okay, there’s probably a good reason this company is so cheap and available. C’mon Bunches–this isn’t amateur hour! You should know why too.’ And we agree–we were prepared to be on top of the situation, but we also knew that that the work required a town inspection, so we figured that whatever we missed, the town inspector would catch. And, spoiler alert, so far there haven’t been any major catastrophes.  Minor ones? Uh, yeah. 

First of all, to be up to code, the new electrical line coming into the house has to be 13′ off the ground. Our house is a ranch, so that means the electricians had to add a big pole to get to the required height. Every electrician we met with, including the ones we hired, said they would put it on the side of the house by the garage as that would be the least conspicuous spot. So what happened? Well, Mr. Bunches and I were both tied up at work the day that they installed the new panel, meter, and pole, so when we checked out their work that night we found this:

   
 
They took the path of least resistance and put the meter on the back of the house, directly between the door to the sunroom and the back door to the garage. Annoyed doesn’t quite begin to describe how we were both feeling.  It’s just not what we had in mind. 

  
At this point, it was too late to move it (they had already drilled a hole in our roof and everything), so we just took it as a learning moment and moved on. The lesson? Always be present at the house when big things are happening. 

The next phase was the rewiring of the kitchen. Mr. Bunches and I both spent time with the owner of the company, and his workers, going through everything we wanted done. The owner drew on the studs and placed empty electrical receptacles as markers for where things should go. This gave us some comfort but we still knew it was a lot of work and they might need some hand-holding along the way. Some was an understatement. 

The owner ripped out all the old wiring in the kitchen prior to his guys starting the work. He did the same in the bathroom. The electricians then came in and put in all the new wiring in the kitchen and bath, including new recessed lighting in the kitchen. They “finished” the work while we were out of town for a week. And yes “finished” is in quotes for a reason. When we got back to town we had the owner over and he confirmed that, in fact, they were far from finished. Not only was none of the new wiring tied into the new panel, but there wasn’t a single outlet in the whole house that worked! When the owner ripped out all the old stuff in the kitchen and bath, he had basically cut off power to the entire house (because everything was connected). Thank goodness Mr. Bunches tested everything! 

So what happened? Well, we basically got the entire house rewired for the original quoted price. We’ve actually only paid them $1,800 so far because they have to finish the work (put on the outlets and switches) after the drywall is done. As of now, we’re happy with the work. The owner made a mistake by tearing out all the old wiring before really understanding how it was all connected, but the electricians who did the work actually did a decent job. And the price can’t be beat. 

With the first phase of the electrical work done, the kitchen looked like this:

  

  

  

  

 

And did you notice the biggest change? The one that prompted the title of this post? We have light!!

   

 

We added four recessed can lights in the ceiling. There really isn’t any natural light in the kitchen since the window and Dutch door both open to the sunroom so we knew we needed more lighting.  In the pictures above only two of the new lights have light bulbs. So it doesn’t do it full justice, but it’s still so nice to finally be able to see in there. And you may have also noticed the new plumbing for the sink:
  
Our contractor extraordinaire, Steve, took care of that for us. He’s also been super busy of late. Ever since the electricians finished Phase 1, he’s been busy putting in insulation and laying drywall. The space is really starting to look transformed. Update pics coming soon!

Love is in the Air

Happy Valentine’s Day!  May you especially appreciate all your loved ones today . . . for my part, I am sure this will be the best Valentine’s Day yet.  So thank you Mr. Bunches and Mini Bunches for being my sweetest Valentines.

Oh, and this Hallmark Holiday was just the right excuse to change out the chalkboard pantry.  So we are no longer Cherishing the Season . . .

Chalkboard_Door_020

 

And instead appreciating all the love surrounding us . . .

photo (6)

 

photo (5)

 

Of course, that didn’t seem quite good enough.  It needed something more personal . . . PICTURES!!

photo (7)

 

Aaahhh, much better.  Now, Love is in the Air!

Stool Problems

Don’t worry–this post is not about Mini B’s dirty diapers (although it does seem that my life is currently full of little else).  Nope, this post is a call for help: design help.

See, we need stools in our kitchen.  Specifically, we need them here:

That counter overhang is a little over seven feet long, so I think three stools would be just about perfect.

Sorry for the wonky coloring in these pics–my white balance must have been way off.

Back to my stool problem (wait–that just sounds way wrong).  Anyways, I think it would be fun to add some color since most of the kitchen is white and gray, except for my new pop of yellow via the microwave cart (see more on that here) . . .

But part of me wonders if I should just stick to something neutral?  Anyways, I don’t want to spend a fortune (what else is new, right), so I think I’ve narrowed down my choices.  Why these?  Well, I definitely want something with a back and I want something sturdy (so four legs is a must–versus those stools that are just perched on a pedestal) and easy to keep clean.  Here are the options:

The limeade metal counter stools from Overstock for $179.99 for a set of two (online reviews say the actual color of these is chartreuse):

The red metal counter stools from Overstock for $163.99 for a set of two (online reviews say these are sort of an orangey-red in real life):

Those exact same stools also come in white for $195.99, black for $166.59, and silver (I can’t find the silver ones at the moment, but I know I’ve seen them).

There’s also this option, which seems to be the same color as above, but a different style (obviously).  These red leather stools are also on Overstock and cost $167.99 for two:

And as if that wasn’t enough, there are these blue beauties from CB2 for $139 each:

And of course now that I’m googling for counter stools, there are even more fun options coming up, like these Valencia leather stools for $248 each (probably a bit too high, but I don’t know–they are pretty rad):

Now do you see why no decision has been made?  I’m just too overwhelmed by the options.  And there’s yet another option–buy some cheap-o stools from craigslist and just spray paint them whatever color I want . . .

So clearly I’m incapable of making a decision, which is why, yes I’m going to say it again–I have stool problems.  And this is where you all come in–help me decide.  Leave me a comment with your opinion (and I’m talking to you my most faithful commenters and fellow design lovers: Doodles, Punks, Erin, Carrie, Nancy, Deenie; so don’t be shy.  Because I need stools!  Now.).

Oh, and not to complicate matters any more, but I’m also thinking of replacing all my dining room chairs–ever since I fell out of one when I was pregnant (arguably NOT my best moment) and since watching some kids try to climb in and out of them, I’ve decided they aren’t the safest.  Sooooo, think on that too.  Maybe something like this . . .

I kind of love how those chairs look with a rustic table . . .  

Photos are from the DIY Blog Cabin.

But I’m not sure how they’d go with our steel and glass beauty . . .

So think about that too.  Okay, have I given you enough to do?  Somehow I feel so much better now that I’ve put these decisions on to someone else.  Sigh.  Now back to my real stool problems (you fellow parents know which stools I’m talking about, don’t you?) . . .

Cart-astic!

Even though our lives have been pretty much consumed with diapers, burp cloths, and baby talk, that doesn’t mean that we’ve given up tweaking our house.  Nope–in between feedings and nap times, I’ve managed to make a few changes.  I figure now’s my chance seeing as how I’m home all day and pretty soon I’ll have to go back to work :( So what’s been the most recent change?  In case you can’t figure it out from the post title (in which case I’m seriously concerned about your skills of deduction), it’s related to a cart.

That’s right, I finally pulled the trigger and got a microwave cart for our kitchen.  See, in our kitchen reveal post, I didn’t reveal much about this side of the kitchen because, well, it looks like this:

I still have plans to redo the pantry doors on the right, and we still plan to replace the old intercom system with a new one (that’s the super old boxy-looking thing on the right wall), but for a while now I’ve wanted to change out the microwave stand.  That dresser there is from my childhood bedroom, and while I do have a special fondness for it, I just wasn’t crazy about it being in the kitchen.  Instead, I wanted something with some color and shelves so that I could display all my cookbooks (and, quite frankly, so they would be more readily accessible than tucked away in the pantry).  So out with the old . . .

and in with the new!

What do you think?  Colorful enough for ya’?  It’s actually one of those school computer carts (I bought it here for $115), so it’s super sturdy and strong.

And it even has the old school built-in power strip.

It came in a whole range of colors, but lately I’ve been full on digging yellow, and since we already have some yellow accents on the other side of the room, I thought it would be perfect . . .

It also ties in nicely with the curtains I made for the dining room and living room . . . (I was going to write a post about these, but let’s face it–some things are just never going to happen.)

I also love that it holds all my cookbooks and fits the microwave perfectly.  I couldn’t be happier with it . . . plus, I was able to put it together and load it up all during one of Mini B’s extra long naps.  Bonus!

So there it is, one quick change in our home that makes me smile every time I walk by.

What did Mini B think of the change?  She was absolutely thrilled!  I had her take a break from her daily yoga to tell you all about it . . .

Our New Kitchen!

It’s reveal time!  Hooray.  Hurrah.  Kazam.  Schlamiel.  Schlamozal.  Yep, just making up words as I go.   But let’s get to some photos, shall we?!

First, a reminder of where we started on move-in day:

Kitchen

And where we are today:

That last view is a big change from where it used to be, huh?

And I’m in love with our open shelving.  It’s so easy to grab things now, and with the removal of all those extra cabinets, the kitchen looks twice as big!

Can you believe this was where it started?  Ugh–and that soffit making the ceiling feel even lower that it already was (our ceilings are only 7-1/2 ft high, so every inch we can gain is HUGE).

But now it’s gone!!

Obviously we still need to change out the odd leafy light fixture, and down the road I plan on doing something with all the doors (maybe staining them dark?  Who knows . . . ), and a later project might be putting some built-ins on that far wall for coat and shoe storage, but at least things are open and airy now, right?

The only soffits left are above the upper cabinets that we decided to keep.

And did you SEE my new sink?!?!

Let me take you even closer, because–yes–it is that good.

It’s so glorious–wide and deep, and the faucet is awesome!  It has a great range of motion and a super powerful spray.

We couldn’t be happier with how it turned out (and the fact that it is finally finished, er, well, if you don’t count the fact that we need to put up new light fixtures to replace the weird leafy ones, buy bar stools, maybe put an area rug in front of the sink, hang some art work, and do one last coat of paint on some of the door trim, but let’s just pretend that’s all taken care of, shall we?).

And just for kicks, here’s what I hid from the shot on the other side of the room (didn’t want all that stuff cluttering up my after shots, now did I) . . . ha!

So there you have it, our kitchen renovation!

Next week I’ll do a quick run-down of where we got everything, paint colors, etc., but for now, I’m just enjoying the view . . .

Kitchen Decision #4: Hardware

Alright, so the post title makes it sound like there were only 4 decisions during the renovation of our kitchen (check out decisions #1, 2, and 3 here, here, and here), but obviously that wasn’t the case.  If it were, well then, it would likely have been the most boring “renovation” ever.  But nope–there were probably 736 decisions in total, but since I can’t photograph or document everything that goes on in my mind (because let’s be honest, how not awesome would that be for everyone reading this?), I’m limiting myself to 4.

And #4 is hardware–the reason that the final reveal photos have taken so long to come out.  And in the interest of brevity, let’s begin with option #1:

Some super contemporary handles and then standard knobs.  See, I had originally planned to use all handles, but I quickly decided against that (good thing we spent all that time filling the knob holes and sanding them down, huh?).  So the stainless knobs were at least an easy decision, but the handles are another story.

The knobs, btw, are the same ones we used in the half bath renovation:

So the original handles I picked out just seemed too Miami Vice to me.  Hard to explain, I guess, but with unadorned cabinet doors, and all white, those handles just screamed 80s (and not in a good, Goonies-meets-

Okay, quick sidenote–I just asked Mr. Bunches to name something cool from the 80s that I could pair with the Goonies and these were his first few answers:

  1. Full House
  2. The Olsen Twins
  3. John Stamos

Seriously?!  This is who I married?!  I love it.

Like I was saying, these handles were too 80s, and not in a good Goonies-meets-Full-House way :).

So then I decided that I liked the look of the half bath combo of cup pulls with the knobs . . .

But I thought those same cup pulls were too deep to work in the kitchen, so I ordered these from online.  And from afar, they looked okay.

Um yeah, that is until you got up close.

Seriously?! Why would they design them to not be flush with the front of the drawer?!  And no–this was not a case of installer error; this was how these bad boys were designed.  UGH.  (That’s the polite version of how I actually expressed my frustration once I installed these.)

In the end, I bought the same ones from the bathroom (they’re the Liberty 2-1/2 or 3″ dual mount cup pulls in satin nickel from Home Depot).  Why didn’t I just do that from the beginning?  Well, that’s a good question probably best answered by the pregnancy gods.  But at least now I’m happy with the final decision, and just for making it through this post, here’s a sneak peak of how they look in our completed kitchen:

So there you have it–from the 80s to today.  All in one post.  Phew.

Kitchen Renovation Weeks #4, 5, and 6

Yikes–writing that post title has made me realize just how long this project has really lasted.  So much for everything being said and done in 3 weeks, right?  Well, at least the contractors were done after 3 weeks (see more on what they did here).

And then we did hint at having our new floors installed once the first group of contractors was done (the floors were finished in only one day, and then our home was contractor-free finally).

And while the original plan had been to stop there (for now) and paint the cabinets after the baby arrived, Mr. Bunches and I decided to change our minds (mostly Mr. Bunches made this decision) and forge ahead painting the cabinets.  And so paint the cabinets we did. And did.  And did some more.

I’m not going to go through all the steps here, since there are plenty of great tutorials out there in blog land (one of the best here from YHL), but I’ll make a few points as we go since our process differed slightly.

First up, like I mentioned before, we removed the 1960s trim from the cabinet doors.  I just used a hammer and a putty knife to carefully take it all off.  Oh, and we also removed all the knobs.

We then filled any holes with wood putty; I used Elmer’s Wood Filler.

We then removed all the cabinet doors and drawers and laid them all out in the garage (I didn’t photograph any of those steps since they’re pretty self-explanatory).  Next up–sanding!  We sanded down the fronts and backs of all the doors and drawers with 100-grit sandpaper; we also sanded all the cabinet frames in the kitchen.

Once everything was sanded, Mr. Bunches scrubbed it all with a deglosser (we used Klean Strip Deglosser from Lowe’s–no real reason we chose this one except that it was the only one Lowe’s sold).

Once that had all dried, it was time to get our prime on.  And on.  And on some more.  We opted for Zinsser Bullseye 123 Primer since it had worked so well on my sister’s kitchen.

And while we had hoped to only have to do one coat of primer, turns out our cabinet doors had something else in mind.  The wood grain kept bleeding through, particularly in the spots where we had removed the trim.  So on went coats #2 and #3, much to Mr. Bunches’ frustration.  And guess what?!  That still didn’t work.  So I finally knew we had to switch to oil-based primer (given my current knocked-up status, I was hoping to avoid all those crazy oil-based noxious fumes which was why we had waited so long to try this option; but don’t worry–all the oil-based priming was done by Mr. Bunches in the garage while I was safely inside.  Thanks Mr. B!).  So we used some leftover Kilz Original that I had on hand, and with one coat of that, all was covered.

Up next was the painting.  I took care of the inside cabinets while Mr. Bunches took domain over the doors and drawer fronts.  After two coats of Sherwin Williams Pro Classic paint (color matched to Benjamin Moore’s Decorator’s White), we were left with this:

Major improvement, right?  Oh, and I forgot to mention that we (meaning I) decided that we also needed to paint all the window and door trim.  Needless to say, Mr. Bunches LOVED that idea.

Isn’t it already such an improvement?

Since most of the painting took place over a couple weekends and weeknights, (and we had a little detour to the east coast during the process) it took a while before we were finally ready to put it all back together.  Plus, I wanted to make sure that everything had a chance to cure up well, so once we were done painting we waited three days before getting the doors and drawers back on.

And that’s where I’m going to leave things today, but I promise that before the end of the week I’ll share some actual reveal photos of the kitchen all put together.  Hooray!

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