Saturday, August 25, 2007

Hardwood Floors

The floor installer will be by later to put in the final hour or two of work that needs to be done to finish the wood floor. Even unfinished, it's attractive. Our cat, Evlin, likes it too. But once he is done nailing he will cover the wood with a thin layer of wood filling. Once the cabinets are installed he will come back, sand the entire floor, and stain.

The floor took the entire week to install mostly because of the detail border that existed in the living room. We wanted to continue the decorative border into the kitchen and dining room. But wrapping that border around several turns was where the time went.

Today we will place the order for our fireplace insert. This coming week we will begin work on an electrical upgrade to the house as well as the wiring and light installation in the kitchen and living room.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Our house was built in 1956 and a young couple, Morris and Pearl Wolf, bought it. They raised a family in the house and both eventually died here. To be the second owners of a house built in the '50 was, in our minds, good karma.

In addition, there were a couple of other selling points:
  • The oak hardwood floors throughout much of the house (which evidently had been covered by lovely green hi-low carpeting) now seeing the light of day 50 years later.
  • The original boomerang Formica in the kitchen maintained by "Mo" for half a century.

According to Formica's history page, the product dates back to the early 1900s when the Industrial Age demanded lighter and cheaper insulators. An engineer, Dan O'Connor...
....had an idea that was pretty straightforward: take fabric, coat it with resin while it winds on a spindle into the shape of a tube, slit the tube lengthwise, unroll it, press it flat and then cure it. The result was a laminated plastic material that was tough, light and an excellent electrical insulator.
Mica was a common electrical insulator at the time and the new product was a substitute "for mica."

In the post-WWII housing boom, Formica...
... patented a rotogravure printing process that produced decorative designs on sheet laminate that could be used on tables and counter tops. In the early 1950s, Milwaukee designer Brooks Stevens came up with a pattern of interlocking “boomerangs” in blue, pink and yellow against a gray background. Skylark, as it was named, appeared in restaurants and on passenger trains and soon became one of Formica’s most popular patterns.

Boomerang was originally named Skylark and depending on the styles of the times it has been discontinued; then reissued. Fortunately for us, it's currently available and that's what we will be putting in for our countertop surface. The original Formica in our house was the pink and gray pattern. We're going with the "aqua" pattern shown here.

We are also bringing in the hardwood oak floors into the kitchen to match the existing wood.
This entire week is all about the hardwood floor getting installed. Photos to follow.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Down to Nothing

The progress continues.

The microlam beam has been installed and the rest of the old wall was taken down. The shiny Simpson ties join the ceiling joists to the beam. It truly feels like one large room now.

The remaining kitchen was completely removed taking everything back to the studs. The refrigerator was moved downstairs which is where we will be preparing food for the next number of weeks.

The pantry has been framed which can be seen on the right half of the photo.

Today, the electrician is here starting to install recessed lighting and begin work on the electrical system.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Studly Kitchen

The demolition continues. Most of the dry wall in the kitchen is gone and areas of the ceiling have been removed, as well. This is our final week with a sink and cook top. Starting next week our eating options involve a microwave, bbq, restaurants, or friends.

The large beam you see in the forefront of the bottom picture is a 22 foot 3x16 microlam beam which was carried into the house by 6 men. The wall we are taking out is load-bearing. This beam, which is much more impressive in real life, will take the weight of the roof and carry it out to the outside wall. In the top photo you can see that the ceiling drywall was cut back on either side of the existing wall. The existing beam will be taken out and the microlam beam will be put in its place. That event should take place this week.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Day One Demolition

We packed up the kitchen and living room in one day. I am back at work so Alida ended up doing most of the work. We relocated the living room furniture to other rooms and got most of the items out of the upper cupboards. Later we will need to clear out the base cabinets. Our contractor, Joel, is trying to leave us a "functioning" kitchen for as long as possible. But we're told the base cabinets (and all appliances) will need to be removed at the end of next week. The hardwood floor guy is scheduled to come in and lay the wood on August 20.

So today, after protective paper was put down on the existing wood, the sheet rock on the wall came down, the upright air return was removed (yeah!), and the upper cabinets were removed.

Monday, August 6, 2007

And So it Begins

So work shall commence later this week. We signed a contract with our contractor. Not that work hasn't been happening in the last number of months.

Once we decided to redo the kitchen we brought in a designer that was recommended to us by our contractor. We hit it off immediately and we have been working with her on the redesign.

The scope of work includes:
  • Remove existing wall between kitchen and living room
  • Enlarge and replace existing kitchen window
  • Replace all counter tops, cabinets, and backsplashes
  • New kitchen lighting
  • Add a walk-in pantry
  • Replace all existing appliances
  • Replace kitchen flooring with oak to match living room
  • Reface living room fireplace and add gas fireplace insert
  • Remove raised hearth
  • Remove and relocate "decorative" air return (the hideous raised contraption by the front door)
These shots were taken soon after we purchased the house.