Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Kitchen appliances and electronics

A single electric wall-oven compliments our existing gas range. Both are made by Frigidaire. We used a strategy for good value in kitchen appliances. A range and single oven will cost substantially less than a double oven with a separate cook top.

A life-size Guy Fieri looks down on me while I prepare meals.

More Guy, with our "Jetson's" pendant lamps in the foreground. That's money.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

More looks around the kitchen

We are not done yet, but here are some more views of the new half of our kitchen.

Our buffet/hutch is supposed to look like a piece of furniture, instead of a kitchen cabinet. There are oak psuedo-supports that will be mounted on the ends to help with this visual effect.

The two chairs by the window will be our "Starbucks area," for sipping coffee and tea in the morning. We still need to find a table to go between the chairs. Do you think the color of the chairs works with the rest of the room?

A look down my bar, er, our eating surface. Seating for five, although it's a tight squeeze to get by the wall mounted TV.

Our new prep area and wall oven. That lower granite slab runs seamlessly through the wall into the original kitchen and wraps around onto an existing cabinet. Our granite installers did an outstanding job.

More pictures will be up later this week.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The "after" shot

We're not done yet, but the kitchen looks very close to its final appearance.

I'll post more pictures soon.

Our new granite counters

Yes, there are countertops under those pies.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Our new kitchen in service

Some of the thirty pie varieties that my wife made for our annual Smoke Day party. They are spread out on our new counters. The kitchen design works brilliantly.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Getting close

The kitchen is beginning to look as I envisioned it. I used a cabinet shelf as a make-believe counter top.

Interesting color and lighting in this one.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

I love it when a plan comes together.

The cabinet in the foreground above, gets mounted over the cabinet in the background below after the countertops are installed.

I've got to do something about the spotty lens on my camera.

The granite gets measured on Monday, and a new countdown begins.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The end is in sight

Our cabinets arrived today, some assembly required. We'll have a chance to stain and polyurethane them while our granite is being cut.

Our afterthought project - the basement finishing - is winding up before the kitchen. The home theater is installed tomorrow.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Flooring goes in

Its still hazy and hasn't been grouted, but the slate-look tile looks great. Especially with the glass accents in the corners.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Waiting for cabinets

I'm as far as I can go until the new cabinets are manufactured and delivered. The walls are plastered and painted, the subfloor has been replaced, and the room is now being used to store all the kitchen finish materials, and insulation for the basement.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


The plaster in the new kitchen is complete.

Yes, we have a schedule

No project is ever too small to not need a schedule.

Or a supervisor.

Here's a knock on wood moment. Everything has gone better than expected up 'til now. Going public with my schedule will surely invite problems.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Status Check - The Hard Stuff

We are all boarded up now and will get plastered tomorrow.

In my second post at this blog, I listed several potential problem areas ahead for this project. Now, just less than two months later, here is an update on the status of those potential dining room conversion killers that we faced so far.

Removal of a bearing wall section. My Master Carpenter laughed at this one. He tore out those studs without hesitation. In fact, after cutting through the nails to the bottom plate with his Sawzall, the studs moved freely while attached to the top plate. There was no downward deflection of the second floor at all. He added the hefty header beam nonetheless for the really sturdy opening shown here.

Utilities in the wall section being removed. As I said in that earlier post, we got very lucky. Moving the heat duct was even simpler than I imagined. It was run up a new stud chase to a ceiling joist, then over 1-1/2 feet to become a new baseboard register in the upstairs bedroom. You can see the riser going to the ceiling joist in the above photo.

Deflection of the floor. Very simply addressed by my carpenter. He "sistered" the floor joists directly below the new island. Deflection should be minimal. The four sisters can be seen in this photo.

Plumbing for new sink. We got extremely lucky again. Our plumber moved the water lines over one stud as shown below. The drain line did not even need to be moved. We did add the width of a stud in thickness to the wall here to accommodate all the plumbing and electrical activity crammed into this one stud bay.

The existing kitchen side is pretty much done. A coat of new color, polyurethane on the corner of the pantry, and the new granite countertop for the island running through the wall and this side is complete.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Ready for drywall

Plumbing, electric and HVAC changes complete and ready to be covered up. Drywall goes up next week. However, there has been a slight change of plan. My brother's plasterer friend is offering the family discount, so instead of finishing the drywall with texture, he will plaster over it in the new kitchen area and in our front entry.

Ken the Plasterer is also doing the walls in our concurrent basement refinishing. The opportunity to finish our basement became irresistible once Kurt the Carpenter, Jim the Plumber and Bruce the Electrician started their work upstairs. But that would be another blog.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Virtual cabinets

The cabinet order has been placed. The new portion of the kitchen will look something like this. A granite eating bar will be installed along the back of the island.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A good day of progress

Quite a day. The plumbing was moved, the heating riser removed and the wall opened and reinforced. I was expecting to see the kitchen cabinets through the opening. When the new cabinets are installed there will be a look of continuity between the two rooms.

This is looking back into the old dining room. I marked cabinet locations on the walls and floor.

A nice surprise was the view out the back windows from the new kitchen - believe me, you can actually see better than this photo. There is more of a panoramic look than from the current room.

We expect the HVAC contractor and electrician to start their work this week. Cabinet manufacturing is now critical path for this project, 4 to 6 weeks is the estimated delivery.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Finally moving forward

My carpenter starts work tomorrow, so I had to get some plumbing completed for him to start. My plumber moved a gas line today to accommodate relocating a ventilation riser after the wall is opened up. He also will need to relocate the water pipes before the wall can be taken out.

My goal for tomorrow's carpentry is to remove 2 kitchen cabinets, open the wall and reinforce it with a new header, and build a knee wall to support the granite as it passes between the two rooms. Preparations for the heating duct move can also be made by the carpenter. My HVAC contractor will reroute the heating duct this week to get air flowing again to my daughter's room.

Once that is completed, my electrician will wire the new kitchen area and install outlet and lighting boxes this week. When all of that is done, drywall repairs can begin.

Then we wait for our cabinets to be built, finished and delivered. That will take 4 to 6 weeks. I had some sticker shock on the cabinet pricing, but they are being custom built and will exactly match the existing cabinets. So we will bite the bullet and have them built.

Hopefully I have some photos of our progress tomorrow.

Instant hot water system


Too nice for our kitchen

So we designed a new kitchen around it.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Another mistake

I went to a plumbing "design showroom" with my wife. That cheap Home Depot faucet and free sink from the granite supplier are not going to be adequate.

The Moda faucet by Elkay.

Plus we'll be adding undersink water filtration and hot water systems.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Plan for moving mechanicals

I cut into my drywall to locate the mechanical runs in the wall between the kitchen and dining room. The sketch below shows the relative position of the proposed opening in the wall with respect to the existing plumbing and HVAC runs (click the pictures for an enlarged view).

Moving the duct over a couple of studs will be simple enough from the basement. To reconnect the HVAC to the run in the ceiling joists, the duct will need to go in through the ceiling because of the addition of the new header at the existing duct. That duct will be run be on the kitchen side of the wall and can be covered by a soffit.

The existing drain pipe is located right next to where the new sink will be added. I think that to move the water pipes, they may need to be run into the upstairs wall, then reconnected by opening the drywall upstairs. On the bright side, water is available right where it is needed.

I had a contractor look at the project today. He says the project is doable and will provide me a quote for the work.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

It is not too late to stop me

This is the vision of the new kitchen, marked in profile on the dining room wall. The table marks approximately where the granite work surface will extend into the room. If you are wondering, the plans posted below are the reverse plan view of my house.

Once the room is cleared, the carpet comes up and a hole will be cut in the drywall.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Major progress on Friday

The objectives for my day off yesterday were to place an order for granite and to provide information to my cabinet supplier to allow them to prepare a quote. I got those done and much more.

We arrived for our 10:00 a.m. appointment at Granite Resources slightly early. We knew what we wanted and immediately placed our order. While waiting for the paperwork, I noticed a sign for a free sink with any granite order. This is what we were looking for - we can also check "buy new sink" off of our to-do list.

That took all of 10 minutes. Our next appointment was at 13:00, so we decide to drive to the tile store to look around. That takes us past Home Depot where we stop to look at paint and faucets. We find a store-brand faucet that we like right away and buy it. Mrs. Headless also picks up some paint color swatches.

Next stop is Floor 360 to find a tile to go with our granite and cabinets. It didn't take long for the Interior Designer to find a ceramic tile that we liked, then it was time to find glass inserts for the tile corners. Of the thousands of samples, I started hauling over the ones picked out by the designer and placing them with our granite sample and tile. Within the first five we had a perfect accent and one of the paint colors from Home Depot matched, too. The designer will write up a quote (those little glass accents are priced at $18.99 a piece, yikes!). We still had time for lunch at Stolley's before the cabinet appointment.

After lunch we motor up to Riebau's Cabinets with our original (1993) cabinet plans and and a cabinet door in hand. Our designer looks at the door and knows our cabinet style right away. She looks at the plans to confirm this and she sees her own handwriting. Although the cabinets will be custom made, we chose mostly standard dimensions. Between our new kitchen plans and the ideas we see in Riebau's showroom and on their website, we were out of there in less than 45 minutes.

Here's the summary of what we accomplished on Friday between 10:00 and 1:30.
  • Ordered granite
  • Picked out a (free) sink
  • Purchased faucet
  • Picked out tile and accents
  • Chose a wall paint color
  • Lunch at Stolley's
  • Established cabinet specifications
We are ready to start the hard work now.

I forgot. We also found lights that we like at Home Depot, too.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Granite Selection

We received photos of our slab of granite for the new countertops and bar. The granite is currently located at the Midwest Tile, Marble and Granite, Inc. location in St. Louis.

This close-up shows the color and grain detail that make "Amadeus" unique.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Plan

This looks simple enough:
  • Remove two upper cabinets
  • Take out 4 feet of wall, brace and rebuild the opening
  • Tear out carpet, install tile flooring
  • Install new lower and upper cabinets
  • Run circuits and install new lighting
  • Install new granite counters
  • Install and plumb prep sink
  • Paint & window treatments
  • Hang new TV
A couple weekends work ...

The reality is that some problems and questions will need to be addressed before getting started.
  • Removal of a bearing wall section. The section is about the same size as some other openings in the wall. It will be reinforced with a 12" beam as they were. "A no brainer" my structural engineer friends say.
  • Utilities in the wall section being removed. We got very lucky. The only utility problem in that wall section is a heat duct supplying HVAC to the second floor. I think it can be moved over a couple studs by rerouting a duct in the basement and running a duct along the top of the kitchen cabinets back to the existing ducting in the ceiling joints.
  • There could be some deflection of the dining room floor from the granite countertop dead loads. I've been advised to double the floor joist's at the bar area.
  • Plumbing for new sink. We got extremely lucky again. There are existing water and drain runs in the wall in the exact area of the new sink. The drain line will not need to be moved and the water lines only shifted over one stud.
Please identify other problems and suggestions in the comments.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Dining room to kitchen conversion

Last week I reviewed my homeowner's insurance policy limits with my agent. When I got home I told Mrs. Headless that if the house burned down we would have $xxx,xxx to rebuild. I also mentioned that we wouldn't necessarily have to rebuild the same house on our property. In particular, we could get away from the formal dining room and build a large eat-in kitchen.

Our home currently has a traditional dining room that is rarely used for dining, only three days each year. Actually, make it only two times since we will usually dine out on Easter. Lifestyles have changed, and this room no longer suits ours. It is now a place for storage and for cats to sleep.

A little later a lightbulb went on for me. Why burn down the house when we can make the changes to the existing structure?

I've been planning the design change ever since. It is not your usual eat-in kitchen, but I think it will look great and be the new place to be in our house. It will be the spot that people stop upon entering the house and an excellent configuration for entertaining.

The Project: Knock out a portion of the load bearing wall between our kitchen and dining room and install an island through the opening along with 30" space for traffic. The island will include a second oven and a barsink, er, make that "prep sink", and be topped with the same type of granite we used in the existing kitchen.

On the back half of the island build a 42" high eating bar. Install new cabinets in the current dining room, including a 72" built-in china hutch and also include a 42" opening for a counter depth built-in refrigerator.

We will also leave space for a pair of easy chairs and a small table. "The Starbucks Area" is what I have designated this spot.

I will install an LCD TV on one wall to improve the livability of the room further. This will be "The Sports Bar" when Mrs. Headless is not around.

This blog is my online diary for this kitchen expansion project. I intend to complete the work in time for our Smoke Day Party on Memorial Day weekend.