Kitchen Update - The End Is In Sight

Wow, it's been almost four months since my last post.  Lately, a lot of our efforts have been focused on making the house more livable - furnishings and what not.  There has been a lot done to the kitchen to make it completely functional.  We are almost to total completion with just a few final touches waiting to get done.

When we were looking for houses about a year ago, we went through one that had a really cool butler's pantry.  Our pantry isn't really big enough to have a true butler's pantry, but we wanted to do as much as we could to make up for some of the lack in counter space in the kitchen.  We decided to carry the subway tile back splash into the pantry as well.

My wife tore out all the old shelves, replaced the ugly light that was there and patched up a lot of holes in the walls.  Fresh coat of paint as well.

As for the kitchen itself, we finally got the counter tops installed - we ended up going with quartz.  I was really wanting to do concrete, but was really running out of time.  The quartz is great, we love it.

After using the kitchen for a while, we decided that we wanted an island.  We were concerned it would take up too much room and the various cabinet people we had come in told us the kitchen wasn't big enough for it.  Well, what do they know?  We looked at a lot of islands on the web to purchase, but in the end I decided to build one myself.  

We now have the subway tile back splash installed.  That really made a difference toward finishing the kitchen.  And, after all of the construction foot traffic had died down, I gave the floor a light sanding and put on several more coats of finish.

Half Bathroom Off the Kitchen
We have an extremely small half bathroom right off the kitchen.  We struggled with how to arrange a toilet in the space so that you could actually sit down.  Yes, before you couldn't sit down (straight anyways) on the toilet.  My wife scoured the internet to find the smallest toilet and sink available.  She also painted the one wall with chalkboard paint.
The toilet ended up being installed at a slight angle to allow for proper usage.

That's about it for the kitchen.  I have yet to do a little electrical work and actually install the lights over the kitchen sink.  We have some tedious work to do on the trim right at the floor level.

Next up will be an update for the living and dining room.


Main Floor Renovation

We are in full motion on the renovation of the main floor with our main goal to be moved into the living room in the next few weeks.  

As with the upstairs, we entirely refinished the floors on the main level.  This floor consists of a combination of oak around the exterior of the rooms with heart pine in the middle of the rooms (the same pine that is upstairs).  Originally, the pine floor had been painted some kind of purple color.  Yea, so, the paint was a pain in the ass to get out.  Stripper, to my surprise, didn't work that well on it and I had to resort to some extremely rough sandpaper to get through it (20 grit).

The oak part of the floor had an old varnish on it that wasn't too difficult to remove and reacted well to the stripper to remove the most of it.  Here are some pictures after the sanding was complete.

We used the same Waterlox finish that we used on the upstairs.  It is really easy to use and with the satin finish, it doesn't overpower the room and keeps the "in the wood" look.  Four coats of Waterlox later, the floors are complete.

 Staining and Trim
On the entire main floor, there is a quite a lot of wood trim (windows, doors, floor, etc.) that are substantial and were not in very good shape.  Previous owners had applied some sort of paint/stain to a lot of the trim that just looked awful.  We began with the windows to sand them down as much as we need to remove the old finish and clean up blemishes.  We then applied a stain on top of that to bring a consistent color all around.  Once the stain had dried, we applied a wipe-on type polyurethane to provide some protection as well as bring a satin sheen.

Other than the trim, the one really large area left was the stairway.  They really weren't too bad, but a refinishing would really breathe life back into them.  The problem with refinishing stairs is that there are so many corners to sand into and add on top of that a 90 year old finish.  We ended up stripping the stairs as well and then tediously sanding each step to prepare for staining.  We decided to stain the steps the same color as the rest of the trim on the main floor.  My wife did all the staining and I kept referring to it as her masterpiece as it was just really painstaking work.  She did a great job!  The steps now have a more consistent color to them and they don't feel so rough.  We will be putting a finish on these in the coming days.

That's it for this post.  Next up is getting a finish on everything and install the shoe molding throughout the main floor.  I also have to make some cold air return covers for the dining and living room.


Winter is coming...

With winter around the corner, my wife wanted to get a bunch of improvements completed outdoors.  The mortar on the foundation blocks was in pretty bad shape, especially in the back of the house.  Lots of missing and cracked mortar.  In fact, if you went into the basement and opened a little door in the wall that provides access under the back porch, you could see light through the blocks.  :)  Not so great.

With that, my wife set out to get all of the mortar fixed and was dead set on also getting the foundation painted.  We went back and forth about the color and she decided on a color that was similar to the house siding.  It turned out really nice and made a big difference from the curb.  It is nice to have this completed going into winter.

First, a few before pictures:

And, the after:

When we purchased the home, the back steps were in terrible condition and as part of the sale we needed to get these fixed as they were actually a hazard.  They ended up replacing the cement steps with treated lumber.  That was fine with me, but it was just raw lumber and needed a little something extra.  My wife decided on the colors below.  I was out of town for the week when she did this and when I returned it was all completed. Nice work!  

And. the back door has been painted as well.  We are looking at painting the storm windows this same gray color next year when it gets a little warmer.


Stripping and sanding

So, just a quick update on the house.  I have been focused on refinishing the floor on the ground level.  There is lots of sanding and stripping of old finish.  The main floor is a combination of white oak around the perimeter of the living and dining rooms and heart pine in the middle of those rooms.  The entry way is entirely white oak.

It works a lot better to strip the floor first with chemical stripper before the actual sanding.  Here are some pics from the living and dining room as well as the entry way.

These first set of pics are showing the stripping of the white oak border in the living room.  On the left is the original, then with stripper applied and then stripped.  Quite a difference.  All that is left then is to sand.  The pile of goop in the 3rd picture is what I have come to affectionately call "toxic sludge".  It's nasty.

Here are some similar pictures from tonight's work in the entry way.  I will finish with the stripping tomorrow night and then begin the never ending sanding.

Most of the dining and living room have been sanded at least once.  Several more rounds of sanding need to happen, but you can begin to see the finished product.  The first two are from the living room and the second set are from the dining room.

And, a fine video of me sanding away on the living room floor.  Seriously, it will never end...

 Next up is to get the floors sanded to 80 grit and then bust out the Waterlox to get four coats of that done.  The great thing is, once that is done, we can move out of the basement!