Category Archives: Renovation

Take it for Granite

I figure it’s time to update the blog, since the countertop has been installed for a while now and other progress has been made. We finally have the hardware installed on the cabinet doors and the trim around the new window has been finished. There are a few more details we need to finish up. The crown molding that we ordered color matched to the cabinets will go in once we figure out how level out the ceiling. One option we are looking at is putting in a faux tin ceiling, or something similar. The other option is to level the ceiling with strapping and re-drywall. That would be the most work.
The last detail to finish up is under cabinet lighting. We have looked at a bunch of different options around town and nothing seems to offer a good way keep all the lights wired together and link across the microwave cabinet. I found an option at IKEA that will work well, and with the switch and plug already wired into the cabinet most of the difficult work is already complete.

So here are a few pictures of what the kitchen looks like with the new countertop. We think the granite looks great! We couldn’t be more happy with the work that Qualey Granite and Quartz did.

To see what the kitchen looked like before, click here.

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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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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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Breaking on Through to the Other Side

There’s just something about sitting back and watching progress happening to your house without having to lift a hammer. This isn’t the norm for around here. I’m usually the one to get my hands dirty so we don’t have to pay someone to do something that we could do ourselves, but it has been nice to see progress when I get home from work. With the impending arrival of the baby, it was nice to get this project moving faster than normal.

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With the installation of the exterior door and progress being made to the siding, it was time to tackle the new passageway to the house. This was one of the last steps for the contractor before I could take over the construction.

Here is the old doorway getting prepped to be framed in.

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And here is the wall that will get the new doorway.

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The old wallpaper is one of the last visuals of what the house looked like back in the day. I can’t say that I’ll miss it. And just to clarify, it was previously covered up with beadboard paneling inside the laundry closet.

And here it is with the new hole!

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One detail that bugs the crap out of me is the level of the floor. The addition sits a few inches higher than the existing floor in the house. It’s kinda a bummer, and presents a challenge when I try to blend the two room together. Not much we can do about it at this point. This entryway will remain open. We won’t have a door here because we want the light to shine in during the day, and keeping the air flow is going to be nice in the summer. I’m also planning on adding a transom window in the doorway, similar to what I did in our bathroom.

Here’s a look at what it looks like inside the addition.

The soon to be bathroom, which you’ll enter through a pocket door.

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And the future mudroom.

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The outside of the addition has really come full circle at this point, and we were so happy with the way it turned out. It’s just big enough to give us extra space in the house, and still gives us enough of a back yard for Miles to play when he gets bigger.

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We still have lots of landscaping to do. Hopefully we’ll tackle that this spring.

Just as a reminder, here is what it looked like before.

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Finally Sporting Wood

Since the concrete had been poured on the addition, we decided that we needed more room in the mudroom, since we’d be using that room more often than the bathroom. Really the only difference between the previous plan and the current is about 6 inches. This would allow the washer and dryer to not obstruct the window to the backyard.Here is the latest plan.

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The position of the bathroom window changed, and we also moved the vanity to the side of the shower enclosure. The backyard still remained a DISASTER area, causing much stress.

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That door leading to the infinite abyss leads to the kitchen. The ‘Big Plan’ is that once that door is moved to the left and the hole filled up, we’ll be able to add more counter space in the kitchen. The new door from the addition will lead in to the dining room. More on that breakthrough in the next post.

The process of building the foundation took much longer than we had hoped. It seemed to rain for days, and weeks, slowing the process down considerably. Also, we found out that the foundation contractor had an accident with an excavator that put him out of commission for a few weeks. When the concrete had finally cured and the back-fill pushed in to place, we were 3 weeks from the baby arriving.

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To see lumber delivered was very exciting! More progress!

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And that progress would bring us to 2 weeks before the baby arrived. Here’s a picture of Sara just getting home from work to check out the progress.

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In the next post, I’ll cover the removal of the door in the kitchen, breaking in to the new entryway in the dining room, and the exterior will get sealed up for arrival of baby.

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