Pack It Up, Move It In, Let Me Begin…

It’s been a busy week here, with lots of shuffling cabinets in and out. We finally got the old kitchen sold and moved out, and the counter top came apart without too much of a hassle. I’m happy with what we got for it in the end. Getting the right seller who could move it out was a big help. Three of us had it all disassembled and loaded in a U-Haul in 3 hours or so.

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The old kitchen had been moved out only a few days when I got the call that our new cabinets were in. I set up a day to have them delivered and got them loaded in the house. They took up way more room than I had expected. We had boxes stacked in the dining room, hallway, living room and kitchen. My first task was getting them unpacked and organize the chaos that had taken over the first floor. I temporarily fit the base cabinets in place to see how they would fit. This gave me a good idea of where all the joints would line up.

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Old houses can be tricky. There usually isn’t a level wall in the house but I got lucky hanging the wall cabinets. The first cabinet to go up was in a straight corner. Not much shimming to be done.

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The rest of the cabinets went in without too much trouble. I would definitely recommend installing a ledger below the cabinets to get everything level. It not only helps to keep everything  in line, but it also helps with not having to hold it up before screwing them in. It adds a bit to the wall prep, having to mud and sand before paint, but it’s worth the extra effort.

The discrepancy between the top of the cabinets and the ceiling form side of the room to the other is really noticeable, so we’ll have to figure something out there. Otherwise, they look good! Next weekend we’ll tackle the base cabinets. This week the contractor will be here to remove the window and replace it with a shorter one. More pictures of that progress when it happens.

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And just a reminder of where we started off when we bought the house, and a reminder why that door to the left was holding us back from a much bigger kitchen.

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Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Kitchen

I have always dreamed of doing something BIG with our kitchen space. It’s not the smallest of rooms, but I knew we could do something better with the layout. One of several advantages of building the addition, was moving the door in the kitchen that lead to the porch. It wasn’t a big deal having an entryway there, it worked, but it limited what we could do with the kitchen. Now that the door has been moved and drywalled in, we can think about how our existing kitchen space can be better utilized.

When we bought the house the existing counter space was tiny. Here is all we had when we toured the house in our first visit:

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After we moved the fridge over and added a dishwasher with the new granite countertop several years ago, our counter space more than doubled.

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We didn’t add any significant storage space with that latest addition, but we also didn’t have room for any more cabinets. Once we removed the door to the porch, our options opened up. We met with a local building supply store to talk about our options. Hammond Lumber Company, a family owned business in Maine, has been my go-to for lots of home projects. They helped design and guide me through the process of building the back deck, and countless other projects. Their Kitchen and Bath Design Center has been great in giving us ideas and visuals for what was possible. To give you an idea of the current layout and what we are going to get, take a look at the following image. The left is what we currently have (in less detail) and the right is the future design.

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With the new layout, we’ll make room for a much larger fridge by moving it out from between the two windows to where the stove is currently located. The new stove will move to the center of the longer stretch of countertops. This will make the new stainless steel stove more of a center piece when walking in the house looking down the hallway, and also make a natural seem for the new granite counter top. We’ll have to replace the window in the upper left hand corner of the new sketch with a shorter one to make room for the base cabinet and counter top.

The new design will give us over double the counter and storage space, and give us room for a bigger fridge. We found a great deal at a local big box store on a stainless steel appliance set by Frigidaire, so the entire look of the kitchen will be updated. The new cabinets are larger and higher quality, with slow close hinges and factory finish paint. The crown moulding will help finish it all off.

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The cabinets will be white to help keep the room bright. There is little natural light in this room, and when we removed the door to the porch it got even darker. With the cabinet color picked, we made a trip to our local granite dealer to shop for options. We decided on this lighter colored slab, and Miles seemed to like it too..

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With the cabinets shipping in a few weeks, the most pressing tasks are getting the window replaced for a smaller one, and selling and removing the old kitchen. Hopefully this process happens without any problems. We’ll also need to prep the walls and move some electrical lines and plumbing. We’ll keep you updated as the work progresses!

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Fifteen Minutes of Fame

While wasting time on Facebook recently, I saw a request from a local publisher looking for home renovation stories. I sent them a few pictures of projects that I had done in the past, one being the hidden door, and the recent addition that is still a work in progress. They replied with interest, so we scheduled a quick photo shoot and interview for an article that would eventually appear in the April issue of the Bangor Metro. Check out page 38.

I think the article turned out great!

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A big THANK YOU to the Bangor Metro for stopping by the house!

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Putting the Mudroom on the Final Spin Cycle

With the window trim and mudroom seating in place, it was time to focus our attention on the cabinets surrounding the washer and dryer. As with any project in this house, we wanted to do it on the cheap. We spent alot of time researching cabinets, both online and some that were available in-store. One consideration was to order cabinets through Ikea, but since we haven’t been there yet to lay our hands on them, we didn’t want to spend the money on something that we weren’t quite sure of the quality. The option that we ended up going with was this unfinished oak cabinet from Home Depot. The drawer slides and hinges weren’t the best of quality, but we figure that these cabinets won’t get a ton of use. And with a few coats of paint they should look pretty decent.

You may remember that we chose to paint the mudroom a shade of blue (Woodlawn Sterling Blue). For the cabinets we wanted to go with something that wasn’t white, but would still have a bright appearance. We went with this color called Montpelier Madison White.

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With so few cabinets to paint, I ended buying just a quart. It did the job of covering really well.
The cabinets aren’t packaged that great for transit, so I needed to putty a bunch of scratches and dings. Not a big deal considering the price.

The joys of painting in the winter means you end up painting in your dining room. Maybe our first project should have been to build a garage?

And here is what they look like after a few coats of paint.

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I had a little bit of help from Miles when I was painting. Every time I painted over the lines he would beep at me. I think he might be an artist in training.

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Installing the cabinets only required contorting my body above the washer and dryer.

I had to add a small piece of trim to the top of the cabinets to fill the gap from the crown molding. This is mostly due to poor planning on my part, but if anyone asks, I’m going to tell them that I did it on purpose.

And here they are! We found our drawer pull and door knobs at Lowes.

The only thing missing was the countertop. Sara and I had talked about having a piece of granite cut, but we ended up just using some scrap bamboo I had laying around from our stairway project. The treads were just the right thickness to give it a butcher block look. I cut them down to size and used a biscuit joiner to put the pieces together.

I never pass up the opportunity to use my router , so I routed the corners of the countertop to give it some detail.

After a few coats of polyurethane and the addition of a few LED under-cabinet lights, the project was nearing completion.

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History Hidden in the Walls

One of the neat things about renovating an old house is finding all of the hidden treasures. Most of this stuff can be found literally stuffed in the walls and ceiling. I imagine some of it just found it’s way in the cracks of the floor, but other stuff may have been placed there. Take for example this little item I found when tearing down the old porch. The old mason jar still sits where it was left many, many years ago.

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I have never run across anything valuable, like a pot of gold, or a Bugatti Veyron, but I have found some stuff that is pretty neat. Over the years I have kept it all in a box in the hopes that one day I could display at least some of it. When we found a pair of the old auditorium seats and installed them in the mudroom, Sara and I thought it would be a good place to also display the house’s history. I don’t know exactly how old the house is, but records from the Bangor Museum and History Center point to the house being built somewhere in the late 1910’s to early 20’s. Here is a picture taken by a tax assessor during the great depression. This is the only picture I have of this house before we bought it. I would love more!

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Compare that with the way that the house looks today (minus the photoshoppping of the shutters, which we will now call shutter photoshoppery).

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So what else did I find in the walls? Lots of stuff! I collected more marbles than anything else. They seemed to be in every wall I tore apart.

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I also found ads for Model T’s, invitations to local events, birth certificates, pay stubs, fishing licenses, receipts, bottle caps, a chisel, playing cards, stamps, and lots more. The oldest thing I found was a receipt for a screw pulley from downtown Bangor hardware store, the Haynes and Chalmers Company. As you can see, it was dated July 14th, 1909.

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The Lone Ranger

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While not really “old”, I found this piece of newspaper kinda neat. Castro and the mention of a French invasion. Bay of Pigs maybe?

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I also found this pay stub from 1939. This was especially cool since the address on the original envelope was our address. Since I had found other items with the name Mr. Arthur E. Stewart, I could now piece together that he worked at an ice cream factory in the late 30’s. I have heard that there was an ice cream factory in our neighborhood, but I haven’t confirmed that it was the same one where he worked. And doing a bit more digging, I found that he was one of 9 children, but passed away in 1998 in Florida at the age of 83. I would love to learn more about this family and if there are any surviving relatives still in the area.

Mr. Arthur Emery Stewart’s pay stub

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Donald Everett Stewart (1924-1974) Social Security card (Arthur’s brother, and 1 of 9!)

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Arthur Williamson Stewart (1889-1969) hunting license, and combo hunting/fishing license. Thanks for keeping it legal Mr. Stewart!

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Neat, huh?

So what do you do with all of this stuff? Frame it of course!

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And here it is hanging on the wall, with the freshly painted window trim!

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So, what do you do with all the hidden treasure you find in your house? Did you ever feel entitled to free ice cream for life when you found secret ice cream manufacturers treasures? Neither did I, but wouldn’t THAT be sweet!?

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Trimming a Little Here and There

I saw a post from a local magazine looking for people to talk about their home renovation stories. I submitted a few ideas, one being the hidden door project, and the other being the new mudroom/bathroom currently in progress. I may not have thought this all the way through, because when she suggested a quick photo shoot and interview at the house in a few weeks, I knew I had lots of work to do. I was mostly concerned with getting the area around the auditorium seats finished. This included putting the trim on the window as well as the baseboard.

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Claire meet Valspar, Valspar meet Claire.

I have always been a fan of California paint, and in most cases I would say that it is well worth the minimal extra cost. The bummer thing about California paint (from Massachusetts by the way), is that it’s hard to find in this area. I’m a weekend warrior and the nearest dealer is only open 7-12 on Saturday. I get my motivation at 12:01. My second choice has to be Valspar, available at Lowes. It covers really well, and it also dried quickly. We decided to go with a Woodlawn Sterling Blue for the walls, and an Ultra White for the trim. After getting the seats removed from the wall, it was time to get painting.

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The color turned out great and didn’t take too long to get done, even with the ceiling. It was time to move on to the trim.

I had an idea this time around to dress up the window casing a bit more than I had in other parts of the house. It is clearly visible from the dining and living room, and almost becomes a focal point. Some research online led me to a few design ideas that I could easily replicate from some kiln dried stock and precast foam molding. My first step was the put the seats back in so I could notch the stool of the window trim.

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Luckily this gets hidden behind the seat .

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The top detail was just created by using a few different types of wood. The crown molding is the hard foam material (super cheap and easy to work with if you have a sharp miter saw blade).  The head casing and half round are both pine. I saved myself a bit of money by just routing the half round instead of buying it. Why not, right?

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The last step of the trim project will be to put a few coats of white paint on it, and the baseboard trim. I’ll show t you the finished reveal in the next post, with more info on that hidden treasure decoration that we have been working on.

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Color Me Bad

I love moving tile. It ranks right up there with my love for Nickelback, and Daughtry. So imagine my excitement when we had finally chosen our floor tile for the 100+- sq. ft. of the addition and I got to move it in, one box at a time. I realize this isn’t a lot of tile, but ever since I took a job mostly sitting behind a desk, any sort of heavy lifting is enough. I was even more excited after we had started to lay the tile out, that we decided the color wasn’t exactly what we wanted. The color was bad. So every box make it’s way back into the car to return at the store, and we picked up what would become the perfect choice.
I always like to dry fit the tile before mixing the mortar. This gives me a better idea of where my joints will fall, and since the mudroom and the bathroom would both be tiled I wanted to see how the transition would look between the rooms.
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I decided to try a different pattern in the mudroom and add an extra bit of detail in the bathroom. It could have been because I picked up a  6 pack of really good IPA, but I was feeling confident in my tiling skills. Several hours later and I was well on my way to a tiled mudroom.

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Notice that I tiles the room, and then forget to close the window. Oops.

This next picture might adequately represent how I did my tiling. 3 beers, and everything was fuzzy.

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Here’s a tiling tip: When your spouse says “Hey, wouldn’t it be nice if we did a little detail on the floor of the bathroom? It would only involve cutting the corners off of each piece, and adding a mosaic detail in the cutouts.” Just reply: “No. I don’t like that idea”.

In the end it turned out okay.

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I did this tile job a little differently than the kitchen. After talking with someone at the Home Depot, he suggested that I use a dry mix mortar since both rooms would be subjected to high moisture. It was a bit dirtier than the premix, but I liked it.

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As you could probably tell by the previous pictures, we have also made progress on the drywall in both rooms. And I couldn’t wait any longer before mounting the Auditorium seats I picked up off of Craigslist. They are a little piece of Bangor’s history right in our addition. I can picture Miles sitting here taking his shoes off after school when he gets older. Awwwww shucks.

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The area above the sets will become a place for us to display some of the hidden treasures we’ve found buried in the walls throughout the years. More on this later.

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