The missing link and day 9

Today, I honestly wasn’t able to witness any of the exciting progress. I was home briefly at lunch and heard the work but by the time I get home tonight it will be too dark to see anything . I know that things are happening !

A couple of random thoughts on kitchen renovation survival , from my day 9 perspective:
* I have a new appreciation for paper plates, bowls and cups. I’ll be stocking up on more of this stuff this weekend! We prefer the “green” choice of washing dishes rather than disposing them, but I don’t enjoy the dish washing setup right now. Speaking of that…
* When I tell people I’m washing dishes in the bathroom, they look appalled. However, it’s not like I’m putting everything in a giant bubble bath. There are dish pans and drying racks and plenty of hot water. It’s just not a really handy process.
* I’m feeling like the house is going to be more solid through this whole renovation–in many ways.
* The Heck crew is doing an awesome job of keeping our house as clean as possible during this process. Sure, there is a little dust, but it’s so much better than I expected! And…
* Everyone that we have worked with has been friendly and professional. They communicate well with us even when I ask questions that seem a little dumb (like what is a soffit?)!

Yesterday my little blog got a big shout out from the Heck Construction organization through a link shared on their website and Facebook post. Today, I thought I’d return the favor with an official hyperlink here. Check them out!

Day 8

Welcome to Wednesday–we’re 8 days into the project. Today’s work included visits from the plumber, electrician and our usual crew, with continued preparation for an inspection that’s coming up tomorrow. I didn’t get a glimpse behind the sealed doorways today–I just wasn’t here at the right time for that. After work, my husband and I walked around the side of the house and we were able to see the work that was done in the basement room.

I would guess that most people don’t combine a basement room project with a kitchen remodel. This basement room was built as a greenhouse space. When we bought the house, there was a bunch of junk down there–including a ton of clay flowerpots and a sizeable area for potting plants. We just added to the junk for 20 years, storing kiddie toys, bikes and garden tools. There is a dirt floor and ugly windows. It’s time to make a better space so that we can support the new kitchen and get more useful storage. You’ll see in the picture that we’ve also asked the plumber to rough in a line for a toilet and sink and well eventually put the old kitchen cabinets here to store stuff neatly.

The pictures also show the space for the new window in the kitchen. It’s at a slightly different space than the former window, and I like it!

faucet and lights!
We have a Friday appointment to pick out the faucet and lights. We have to go to a few places in Lancaster to do this and we are rather late in getting this done. Hopefully my tardiness does not cause any problems! I have a pretty good idea of what I want and I’m trying very hard to stay in my allowance for this. I’ve just been busier than usual at work and these places are only open during the day.




Day 7

Today’s highlight was a walk-through with the electrician to determine where lights and outlets will be located. Unfortunately I didn’t take my camera along–so there are no interesting pictures today. Before we walked into the new space, project manager Matt told me a few interesting facts about electrical outlets (well, it was interesting to me…):

• In a kitchen, outlets must be spaced every 4 feet along the counter, because most small appliances have short cords. In other spaces, outlets are generally every 12 feet, because most lamps have 6 foot cords. So…I didn’t have to worry too much about where to place the outlets.

Matt S, the project foreman, had sort of drawn the cabinet configuration on the floor so that I could kind of walk around and see where things would be. This was really neat–I could start to visualize how the space will work. I’m not sure if it feels bigger or smaller than what I expected, but it’s definitely different and will be so much brighter (remember…those were my goals). We will have pendant lights above the counter/peninsula and above the sink, and a ceiling light above the dining area where we’ll have a window seat.

I also got a feel for the space in the old kitchen, and how that will “look” with the coffee station, a large closet for cleaning supplies and other non-food items and the door to the deck.

Welcome to Day 6! Breaking through that wall!

All day I’ve been kicking around a catchy title for this post, like: “All in all, it’s just another brick in the wall”. I’ll spare you the seventies song titles and jump right in to what’s happened today.

The crew brought their fans, saws and even a skidloader at the usual start time. They brought in the equipment and then sealed of the doorframes behind them to minimize the dust in the rest of the house. (We had already covered our “kitchen” with sheets as an extra layer of protection and the system seemed to work pretty well.)

Today’s work was a key step in the process. As I’ve noted in previous posts, there was no way of knowing the condition of the bricks until much of the demolition was done. Apparently, there were two layers of brick in this wall (which was formerly and exterior wall) and the interior layer was a little sloppier than the outside layer. From what I understand, the process went ok, and new support is now in place to make the opening more solid.

Our project manager Matt sent these pictures to me earlier today.


This picture is taken from the playroom (new kitchen) looking toward the old kitchen.

The second picture is taken from the old kitchen, looking toward the new kitchen.


And the skidloader? That was used to haul some of the bricks from the work area to the dumpster.  The crew made a nifty little drive (temporary) along the real driveway into the backyard. Hmmm! Maybe there’s hope for a future garage in the backyard some day?

Tomorrow: they’ll get started on framing the walls. Wednesday: the electrician comes to talk about outlet locations.


Week 1…is done

What a difference a week makes. There is significant change to our house and we’re adjusting to our new routine. I’m very thankful for a quiet start to Saturday. We didn’t have the early morning routine of rounding up the cats and unlocking the doors for the crew.

I was not here much of the day yesterday and didn’t take any interior pictures. Later, I’ll take a few outside shots to show the work on the windows and basement room.

A few thoughts on week 1:

• There are a lot of layers to remove before the rebuilding work begins. Cabinets, countertops, floor, old plaster, weird wiring configuration, water lines, heating lines, ceiling, carpet…the list is huge. It is truly an archeological dig.

• We have not found anything too interesting behind the walls–except glimpses of old wallpaper & brick.

• I have a new appreciation for walls and windows that keep out the drafts. True fall weather arrived this week…brrr!

• The dust and noise are what I expected. I know it’s going to get worse early next week, and we’ll take precautions to cover things where we can.

• Now that the refrigerator is in its temporary home, I feel that we have a working system in the “kitchen”. We have a microwave, crockpot and with some planning, I think we can eat well. We can go to relative’s house and make a few meals to reheat here at home. The operative word here is PLANNING. Otherwise, my sister predicts that we’ll be relying on fast food and microwave dinners in about a week!

• The cats hate their daily imprisonment. We have a small opening in the door to the basement so that the cats can go back and forth to their food and litter box during the day. Now we have to block that opening to keep them downstairs and out of trouble. Here’s the scenario: my husband lures them to the basement with kitty treats,  quickly heads up the stairs, installing a blockade of small heavy boxes, with cardboard pieces covering the opening. Outside the door, he attaches more cardboard and puts a heavy stoneware jug in place as a final blockade. Even with ALL of that, there have been a few escapes. Smart (and aggravated) kitties!

• The change in our routine (coupled with the stress of caring for our son’s post-surgical needs) has been exhausting. I’m looking forward to an afternoon nap later today!

• Can’t wait to see what next week brings!




Day 4

It’s Thursday and I’m spending the day at home to take care of my son. This is my first full day spent at home in many months, and it’s been good to see what’s happening here on Project Day 4.

Today, the crew has been working on removing the windows from the “new kitchen” room, as well as the room below. It’s a noisy process and they’re out on scaffolding. I think they may be doing some siding removal as well. They’ll be ordering the new windows and doors for that space and the room below. It’s probably the coldest weather we’ve had so far this fall, and as I sit here in the living room, I’m definitely feeling the breeze. (Note…that got much better later when the new window holes were covered up for the night.)

I snapped a few pictures yesterday when we got home from our day at the hospital. As you can see, we’re down to the bare bricks in the former kitchen. It looks like some kind of historic site.




The other interesting site was this doorframe. We always thought there had been a window behind the stove, and it turns out there was a door. This might make it easier to open the room to the new deck…but we’ll have to wait and see.

One of today’s more challenging tasks was moving the refrigerator into the dining room. It sounded simple and the guys waited to the end of the day to do this, after finishing  their outside work. They were trying to make things convenient for me since I had to totally empty the contents. Unfortunately they had a really hard time getting both doors off the fridge so that it could come through the narrow doorframe. With a lot of work, it’s now done, and I have all my appliances here in my makeshift kitchen.

Day 3

Good  morning! Today we’re adding a little something extra to this week, with another reconstruction/repair. Today, the work will be done on my son’s knee. He’s having ACL reconstruction so he’ll be recuperating at home, and watching construction progress, for the next week or two.

Since it’s going to be a very busy day, I’m posting a few photos of yesterday’s work. I took these first thing this morning. You’ll see a couple of interesting things. There is an arc above the corner of the kitchen where we used to keep the coffee pot. And, what we thought was a window, behind the stove, may have actually been a door.

Check it out!






Days 1 and 2

Today is Tuesday and we are officially two days into the kitchen project. As planned, our job foreman Matt arrived yesterday at 7 a.m. and got to work. The first order of business was unloading tools, planning where to place the dumpster and beginning the task of removing cabinets. Over the course of the first day, they got a tremendous amount of work done, taking out most of the cabinets and trim in the current kitchen. They also took out the paneling in the “new” kitchen, taking the room down to the studs.

My husband was home all day to answer questions and he will admit that it was hard to see the kitchen essentially demolished. It’s a dirty job and the house smelled a little weird (we call it the “old house smell”–not sure how to describe it, but it smells like musty old carpet and walls). When the work was done for the day, the contractors blocked off the rooms with a temporary wall and and a fabric covered the window to the “new kitchen”.

Day 2 brought the plumbers, who had a big job of rerouting existing plumbing and heating (we have oil/hot water heating and radiators in some places). The contractors continued their demolition work and finished removing all cabinets, counters ceiling and most of the flooring.

The dumpster is already full–and that’s without the major pile of cabinets that we are saving for the basement. Tomorrow the garbage truck has to haul that dumpster up our scary driveway hill. I think i will be glad to be away when that happens.

Now that we know what the wall looks like between old and new kitchen space, we had to make minor adjustment that will take about 4 inches off the length of the kitchen room. It’s not a huge deal, but it will require some minor adjustments to the plan. The Heck crew and project manager have communicated well so far.

All in all, things seem to be going well. It’s a little exhausting….this new process of getting up early, rounding up the pets and working out of our makeshift kitchen. However, we’re getting in the groove! Hurray for progress!




Tomorrow, Tomorrow…

Tomorrow is the day.

I’m going to start with the factual side of things. Here’s what we’ve been up to over the past few days:

• Getting rid of more STUFF! We are constantly amazed by what people are taking from the end of our driveway! We have put all sorts of things out there with a “free” sign attached. Furniture, bicycles, appliances and even a rusty old bar sink have all disappeared. I think we should have just invited the neighbors over to peruse our junk and they could have hauled it right out of the basement.

• Setting up our makeshift “kitchen” in our dining room. I’m typing this on my dining room table, which is tucked in the corner, in front of the closet. It’s a cozy spot. The plan is that we’ll put the leaf down on the table during the day and pop it up each evening. We’ve also been able to put our vintage hoosier cabinet and dry sink to use with all the kitchen essentials ready to go.

• Packing the last of the kitchen. As of 15 minutes ago, the kitchen is completely clear. It makes me a little sad.

• Cleaning the oven so it doesn’t embarrass me when it gets moved into place.  I’m sure the stove is totally gross on the sides and underneath, but at least it’s clean on top and inside.

• Taking down all the pictures and the other stuff on the fridge. A five minute task…but one we put off until the last minute.

We’re also prepared to repurpose the existing cabinets. My husband has taken the doors and shelves from all of these and we’ve set up pallets on the patio to store the cabinets until the basement room is finished. We feel good about being able to use these for another purpose.

On top of the big construction project, we have two other challenges this week. Our son will be having knee surgery which will mean he’s home from college for a week or so. When you’re sick or injured, you want the comforts of home–not rubble and disruption. And, our dog appears to have something wrong with her front paw which means a trip to the vet tomorrow. Somehow, we’ll get through it all.

And now for the emotional part:

As much as we want this remodel, and have planned for it, saying goodbye to the past is a little sad. I honestly have cried over what sounds like the dumbest things. Things like the old sofa and chair sitting out for the trash man. Things like the notes from my kids found stuffed in kitchen cupboards. And remembering the boys as little people stealing marshmallows from the lowest kitchen drawers. But I know we’ll be making good memories in this new space too. Goodnight for now. Tomorrow comes bright and early!

What’s on tap:

When you are planning a kitchen remodel, your thoughts probably go first to cabinets, counters and floors. However, I’m learning there are many other things to consider. Here are the decisions to make this week:

• Kitchen Faucet.

Honestly, I’ve never given my kitchen faucet a whole lot of thought. As long as water comes out at the right temperature, at the right time, I’ve been pleased. I don’t recall ever having to replace the one that we have and other than the fact that it’s a little touchy (meaning the water comes out really fast for those who are not used to it) it’s fine.  So…it appears that like everything else, there are dozens of choices. The two I was looking at this morning are by Moen. I’ll want to actually see how the faucet feels and functions, so I’ll be checking online reviews and visiting the plumbing showroom. Here’s one example: Moen Waterhill

This Moen faucet is lovely-but I want to meet it in person.

This Moen faucet is lovely-but I want to meet it in person.

• Siding

Yes, outdoor siding. Remember, this remodel project includes the re-working of a previous addition. It currently has actual aluminum siding (wow…it must be old!) that was installed back in the glorious sixties or seventies! Yesterday, our project manager Matt dropped off a bunch of siding samples to consider. They all looked pretty similar and then he offered a twist—board & batten style siding. What that means is the lines are vertical, rather than horizontal. After taking a look at some pictures online, we decided that this would look pretty cool. As the project manager said, it might be kind of summer kitchen kind of look that would be fitting with the old house style.

We also met our onsite project foreman/supervisor this morning. He is also named Matt, so it will be easy to keep things straight. He got the overview of the project and met our dog. The important preliminaries are set!