Kitchen Makeover: A Happy Conclusion

This update is long overdue and I apologize for the delay. The kitchen is 99% done. I am waiting for a few very minor details to be wrapped up, but I have unpacked my boxes, reorganized my dishes, pots, utensils and food pantry. I managed to accomplish all of this in time to throw a Labor Day weekend party and celebrate my beautiful kitchen- which took the entire summer to complete. All of my friends raved about it and we went all out on the food and drinks. It was a grand time and a great way to initiate the new kitchen.

Since then, I have been cooking regularly and I love it! A seat at the counter on one of those comfy red stools has become my favorite spot in the house. The NXR range is fabulous and having the extra burners makes cooking dinner much easier. The layout works really well, especially when another person is cooking at the same time; and that is exactly why we undertook this project so I am happy to report that my expectations have all been met. Sure we had some frustrations along the way, but as I look ahead to how much use we will get out of our kitchen it has all been worth it.

The island feels so inviting!

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And the new floor plan seems so much bigger!

 

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We found the perfect place for everything at our party.

Even the lighting gave the right ambience...

Even the lighting gave the right ambience…

 

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The day after the party, we took advantage of the Labor Day sales and husband bought the Kitchenaid standing mixer he has wanted for years but never had a place for. Now in its candy red color, it deserves prime real estate on the granite countertop, don’t you agree? We are all looking forward to many more delicious meals and gatherings with family and friends.

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Surviving a Kitchen Makeover: Tip #6

Tip #6: Appreciate Progress

This project started June 30 and today is July 17. We had a holiday week in between so there have officially been 12 work days since then. I am still using my coolers for food and alternating between eating out and cooking on the grill. However, the accomplishments of today really excite me and remind me to appreciate what a great change this is going to be and how worth the small hassles. These photos were taken exactly a month apart: before and after. Just comparing them makes me excited and helps me stay calm and patient.

Before: 6/17/2014

Before: 6/17/2014

 

Progress after 12 days of labor: 7/17/2014

Progress after 12 days of labor: 7/17/2014

Surviving a Kitchen Makeover: Tip # 5

Tip # 5: Don’t be afraid to suggest ideas or ask questions

It is imperative to remember that you are the customer and it is Contractor’s duty to work with you and treat you with respect. You have the right to ask questions and suggest ideas, even if they seem silly or irrelevant.

For example, the refrigerator was delivered and after the appliance company left, I looked at it more closely.

Façade stainless, sides black

Façade stainless, sides black

I had wanted a stainless steel finish, but only the façade had that attribute. The side panels were a black formica. I looked up the model online, but even that described it as stainless steel, so I was very confused. I waited until a moment when Contractor was not busy and I asked him why the sides were black when I wanted stainless steel? He politely explained this is how all the models come and that he had special panels which would cover the sides. So that was a simple question with a simple answer. Done.

Refrigerator space  with corrective  pipe and supporting wall added

Refrigerator space with corrective pipe and supporting wall added

 

However, not all dilemmas are handled quite so smoothly and actually require some thinking outside the box.

I return to the saga of the rogue supporting beam. Because of the beam’s location, the hood vent can not be directed straight out of the kitchen. When Contractor called me over to point this out, he told me he saw no way around it and the inevitable plan would be to vent the stove directly into the kitchen.

Bay where vent was supposed to go, but blocked by supporting beam

Bay where vent was supposed to go, but blocked by supporting beam

Not good news; but I conceded the point and texted my husband with the update. He immediately called on the phone and told Contractor a very creative idea. We didn’t know if it was plausible,  but a few minutes later I was upstairs in my son’s closet while one of the guys was tapping on the kitchen ceiling, trying to locate where to put the vent. By a stroke of luck, they found an empty bay where it would not interfere with wiring; so, we will be able to vent the stove outside after all!

Son's closet saves the day

Son’s closet saves the day

Sometimes it takes a homeowner who knows the house well to solve the problem. Now my husband is very pleased because, in order to save time and money, he has volunteered to take charge of the upstairs vent, including building a box around it in the closet. He should be proud of his contribution to this project and that he didn’t give up on solving a problem that was important to him.

 

Surviving a Kitchen Makeover: Tip # 4

Tip # 4: Accept invitations for dinner whenever possible

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Progress Report: The structural beam has been repaired. They have rewired the electric and plumbing and are working on the vent for the stove. Sheetrock is starting to go up and it is beginning to look like a kitchen.

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Nevertheless, there are still no appliances and we are probably many days away from being able to cook in the kitchen. Which brings me to Tip # 4: Accept Invitations for dinner whenever possible.

Even though, technically speaking, I can cook my dinner on the grill, I have not stocked up on all the perishable items that are nice to enhance the flavors and most of my non-perishable ones are packed away. My garden produce keeps on growing, though and it is a shame to let it go to waste. I have given away many pounds of kale, collard greens, cucumbers and herbs. Now the zucchini and green beans are starting to become abundant.

My friends and family all appreciate what I am going through and kindly offer to have us over for dinner. It is a much better option than going to a restaurant or ordering takeout.  I have been showing up with freshly picked vegetables as my contribution to their efforts and we have all enjoyed each others company for a few hours. It is a nice way to step away from the chaos going on at home and an opportunity to acknowledge the importance of maintaining these friendships. It really reminds you that we can’t always do it alone and it is nice to know you have people to lean on when you need it.

I look forward to hosting a kitchen party when it is all done as a way of thanking all my friends and family for their support.

p.s. as I am typing this, appliances are being delivered and cabinets are starting to be installed! More updates tomorrow!

 

 

How to Survive a Kitchen Makeover: Tip #3

   Tip # 3: Pretend You are Camping

My husband actually took me on my first camping trip when we were courting, so I have many fond memories from the first one. Subsequently, we took many camping trips with the children when they were young. If you are not a fan of camping, maybe this tip doesn’t work for you; but if you are- it sounds like “glamping”.

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I have my coolers filled with cheese, milk, hardboiled eggs, hummus and drinks and my propane tanks are full and ready for grilling. My outdoor dining area is eager for use (which is why redoing your kitchen in the summertime really helps the process).

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I have a second entrance to my deck from the dining room. The grill and double burners are only steps away.

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I am using the dining room table as a pantry/work area. There is a utility sink in the laundry room and I have been using paper plates and reusable plastic cutlery.

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I resisted the urge to set up my microwave; but with only a few compromises on whole grain products, I feel I am actually keeping to a healthy diet.

The coolers need a new bag of ice daily and I have to buy food in smaller, less cost-efficient portions, but overall it is similar to camping- plus the benefits of indoor flush toilets and hot showers every day. Now the only question is; “How long can I put up with this?”

 

 

How to Survive a Kitchen Makeover: Tip #2

As bad as the kitchen looks and as noisy as it gets with drilling, sawing and hammering, everything is easier to handle after my cup of coffee. Therefore,  Tip # 2:

Tip #2: Coffee station

The very first thing to do once you are ready to live in the house during a kitchen makeover, is to set up a coffee station. My apologies to tea drinkers, but the same policy still applies. After returning home from vacation and seeing my gutted kitchen, I displaced a lamp and reclaimed the outlet, installing my coffee machine.

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I stocked up on thermal disposable cups and a few gallons of water. Then I set my alarm for 15 minutes prior to the arrival of the electricians and made my cup of coffee. By the time they arrived at 7:30, I was ready to greet them with a smile.

In addition to installing the new lighting, they were also responsible for fixing the “problem” I mentioned in yesterday’s post. We had a structural beam that was improperly secured. In fact, it was not bolted together and was significantly sagging. It required jacking up the beam and adding an extra support- apparently a $1000 fix.

 

Not bolted, sagging

Not bolted, sagging

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No worries, I may not be able to use my kitchen for a while; but at least I have my coffee.

How to Survive a Kitchen Makeover: Tip 1

You may wonder why I am posting the above title on a blog title The Middle Generation. Here is my explanation:

After a dozen years in this house and many DIY home improvements, Husband and I have decided to bite the bullet and treat ourselves to new kitchen- One we can enjoy cooking in, together or with our family, without tripping over each other. We also accepted the idea that this was too big a deal to tackle on our own. We hired a designer and worked out a plan with him. It will completely change the layout which requires moving plumbing, electric, gas lines and ventilation system. (see below for before and projected after shots).

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BEFORE: CROWDED, POOR LAYOUT, FALLING APART

Builder's design

Builder’s design

 

 

Computer model not to scale or color

Computer model not to scale or color

AFTER: MORE ROOMY AND OPEN FEEL, MORE WORK AREAS

So here we are a week into the project and I have decided to use my blog to share my adventures and tips and to update the progress of this project with my family and friends- and anyone else who is pondering a kitchen makeover and wants some inside tips. Let me begin with Tip #1.

Tip #1- Plan a Getaway

Believe me. During the demolition stage you do not want to be around. There will be pieces of sheet rock, cement and tile flying through the air. Furthermore, it is noisy and very stressful to see your house getting torn apart and covered in dust- even if you hate the cabinets.

We were fortunate enough to already have a planned vacation in place the week this project began. So on Monday, I was relaxing on the Jersey shore, enjoying the sound of waves and the unseasonably warm water. Finding a text from our builder at 2:30 pm saying, “We need to talk” didn’t sound good; but, hey, I was in vacation mode. No worries, mon. If you follow HGTV as I do, you know how common it is to find serious problems when renovating, so of course, we found ours. However, as long as it was fixable without compromising our vision, we were okay with it. By 3:30 I was back on the beach with my book.

Nevertheless, I couldn’t stop myself from thinking about the project and wondering what it would look like when I got home. I figured no news was good news and enjoyed my vacation. By the time I got home, this is how it looked. The demolition was over- so it can only improve from here.

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Totally gutted ,even the tile floor

Totally gutted ,even the tile floor