Monday, February 24, 2014

Seven Months of Construction

It has certainly been a while since we posted anything on this blog. Fifteen months and 4 days if you really must know. Not sure what prevented us from doing so, but maybe we just got lazy. Lazy is probably the best explanation.  But I really must place a bit of blame on Facebook.  It seems in my laziness I can slap a couple of pictures shot with my phone up on my "Wall" and then somehow believe that is real communication.  But everyone knows that Facebook is never REAL communication.  It is a "cocktail party" at its best.  But we all know that a "cocktail party" is never a substitute for a real conversation.

 Nonetheless, we are back and have something to talk about, our recently remodeled kitchen and bathrooms. 

I initially started this blog post to describe what Max and I just went through in the planning and preparation to upgrade the bathrooms and kitchen of our 119 year old home.  

I simply must interrupt here with very strong advice.  It's been said before but certainly bears repeating. Never- and I mean NEVER- say you absolutely won't do "you fill in the blank".  You'll do it.  I guarantee it- you'll do it.  I said that I would NEVER, NEVER, NEVER undertake a major remodeling of my kitchen. NEVER.  But not only did I giddily sign on to a MAJOR REMODEL of the kitchen, we added in three bathrooms to made sure we were really, really, really inconvenienced.  Let's just say the last  seven months was a bit like hunkering down in a storage warehouse with a continuous stream of construction workers with appropriate loud equipment interrupted daily by another trip to another restaurant where we for sure sat next to someone that was going to irritate Don while we ate food we'd rather not be eating at that moment.

As I was starting the 4th paragraph describing the process (and I see with Max's added comments this is now the 5th paragraph), I was getting tired of going through the long drawn out experience and realized that anyone reading this would probably give up and just look at the pictures.  We had delays, set backs, and 7 months of parking in the street because my 3-car garage was turned into a carpenter shop.  So to summarize, in just about exactly 7 months our kitchen and 2.5 bathrooms were stripped to the frame work including all of the plumbing and electrical, and then completely rebuilt with new wiring, new plumbing, new floors, new walls, new ceilings and all new fixtures.  The biggest change was in our kitchen.  Below are a couple pictures of the kitchen taken before the process started. 

Northeast towards the back porch

Northwest with the refrigerator on he left and the sink below the window on the left.

Here is the kitchen after demolition was well underway.  Once again for perspective:

 Above, looking west toward the driveway at the window that was above the kitchen sink

 Looking Southwest where the stove and refrigerator were located.  In the lower center of that south wall was an old pantry that was set in below the back stairs.  We think that it was probably an outside cold storage space when the house was first built because our kitchen and bathrooms were added onto the house well after the initial construction.

Looking East towards the old bathroom and on the right outlined in blue, the doorway to our dining room.  The back door and the wall to the left were all removed to expand the kitchen/bathroom.

Not shown in the above pictures is that the back porch was disassembled and saved and the north wall of the house was removed and a new part of the kitchen was added.  

Here is our new kitchen.  It is almost twice the size of the old one and now has a walk in pantry and next to it is a new full bathroom.

Above,  looking South towards the front of the house with the 5 burner cook top in the center and the short hallway to the dining room on the left.

Looking northwest toward the garage.  The center island has a prep sink on the other side and the stools and sitting areas at the island were the idea of Max so she could have grandchildren help her in the kitchen.  The window on the left is original and still above the sink.

Looking east where the old half bath used to be.  Behind the door is a walk in pantry and behind the double oven/microwave/refrigerator is a new full bathroom.  Did you hear the part about the double oven.  Oh yes, DOUBLE OVEN! The new back door is to the left of the ovens.

Looking west from the new back doorway

Looking north from in front of the sink.  The two windows are new and the new back door is on the right. As I look at the pictures I realize that the pictures just don't do this new kitchen justice.  You just must come and see it for yourself.  It is absolutely stunning!  We worked with our architect, Rod Sidley and a team of expert carpenters who were amazing at embracing the history of our house- and building a kitchen rich with details that flows seamlessly from the part that is 119 years old. That said- just let me know when you'd like to come and visit- we have the room!

I didn't take pictures of all of the old bathrooms since they were really too small to get much in the picture.  Here is the one picture I took of our old guest bathroom on the second floor.  The picture is looking west toward the driveway. I have to admit I never, ever showered or bathed in this old bathroom.  The people I know and love (daughters and dear friends) do tell me it is one of the worst they've ever been forced to use.  I'm afraid no new curtains or new bathroom carpets could even dent the deterioration of the ages.

And here is that same room during demolition.  The other bathrooms were stripped down to the same level of demolition.

Below is the new guest bathroom.  This was Max's own creation and our only bath tub in the house.  Of course we had to have one bathroom so Max could give our young grandchildren baths. 

Don't you love it!  Can you believe the transformation!  And the claw foot tub is cast iron- so it holds the heat- perfect for a long hot soak- as well as a very long time to play with toys for the grandchildren!

Having windows in bathrooms in neighborhoods creates problems of privacy.  Max was determined not to cut out the light in the bathroom, but she also didn't want curtains.  The leaded glass was her solution.  All of the leaded glass (yes there are more) are installed in front of our high efficiency double pane windows.  The picture below shows the patterns the glass makes on the walls in the evening as the sun sets in the west.

Next is the first floor bathroom with its leaded glass window.  On the far right is a large shower with a glass partition and glass door.  This window provides diffused light as the morning sun shines in.

And finally, below are several pictures of the master bathroom.  The first with the shower in the background.  This shower is slightly larger than the downstairs shower, but the fixtures and tile are the same.

Below are views of the cabinets from opposite ends of the bathroom.  Not shown or evident is that the ceramic tile floor in the master bath is heated, so the floor is always warm in the winter. 

And finally there is the window in the master bath that is on the wall opposite the sink.

The only thing not included in the pictures is that my office was taken over by Max and I moved to the front of the house.  But my old office was significantly reduced in size in order to give Max a new big double closet for her off season clothes and a new space for a second floor washer and dryer.  Ahhhhh! The absolutely luxury of not hauling all of our laundry down to the basement from our second floor bedroom and then back up again!

We are keeping the basement washer/dryer for heavier loads of laundry. And when we were getting the house ready for our first out-of-town company I was actually using both the second floor and basement washers and dryers to quickly wash all the towels and sheets.

I'm not including any pictures from the outside, since it is still a bit of a mess from the winter storms.  We did expand our brick patio area and our back porch was rebuilt and looks just like our old "new porch" except this one came out a bit larger.

So the house is now available for visitors and Max and I are back in our new kitchen enjoying all of the space and new appliances and often trying to remember where we put something in our very spacious cabinetry. We actually have whole shelves that have nothing on them, drawers with nothing in them.  

But best of all this kitchen invites conversation.  We can all gather around and laugh and tell tales and Don and I can keep on cooking with nary a pause.  Come and see for yourself.  We'd love to have you!