Kitchen: Sort of Lazy Days of Summer

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Oh Summer. You wild & crazy beast.

The plan was to have the kitchen D.O.N.E. DONE by the end of June.

It is solidly the middle of July and the last 10% seems to be dragging on. And I mean DRAGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGING on.

Summers have tended to be a little slower at work. Not this summer. This summer we are still without a director and with a coworker on maternity leave. New administration on campus, new initiatives, lots of new-new-new, do-do-do. Which is good. Truthfully. We needed a shaking up and boy did we get it. But gone are my slacker days of summer.

While I would like to blame the delays on work or things outside my control, that’s not completely the truth. Partially, maybe. But not totally. I’m enjoying the summer.

I’ve been watching a lot of soccer with this guy.

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(who also happens to be the only reason I’ve lasted this long without a kitchen)

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Enjoying summer storms at the shore and soaking in girl time with this lady while she was back home for a week.

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That rad safari fabric covered canvas graced the lobby of the psychic we went to. Have you ever been to a psychic?? It was a first for me. Good times.

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Making friends at the dog park (pittie smiles!!) and enjoying Saturday morning snuggles on the couch.

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Picnics in the park with friends to listen to the New York Philharmonic and watch fireworks.

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Turns out, picnic foods can absolutely be assembled without a kitchen. The brownies were baked by my mother and leftover from a family get together. See the part about my cousin being home for a week. The only challenge was attempting a balsamic reduction for the peach & burrata crostini without a stove.

I don’t think it counts as a reduction simply by distributing it across the inside of the microwave.

Other than having to clean the inside of the still-new-microwave, life is good. Really good.

The past month has even seen some progress on the kitchen.

When the range hood went in, I expected cutting down and installing the cover to be a quick & easy task. I should know by now that anytime I expect something to be quick &/or easy, it most certainly will not be either.

Turns out the hole I cut in the soffit cab cover panel – that I expected to be well behind the duct cover – was definitely not well behind the duct cover.

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Add that to the spackle, sand, repeat list.

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The cover panels for the very first upper cabinet I installed finally went up.

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Cutting & sanding them took a bit of finesse. I wanted the right side to be pretty tight to the wall. Turns out the wall bows a bit. Caulk.

The bottom of the left side needed significant sanding down on the inside to accommodate the swing of the microwave door without binding. I don’t think you can really tell it’s not 3/4″ thick for the lowest 11″ unless you really look close. Win.

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Now I have to take it all down to prime & paint it. I want wood to be finished & sealed between the panels & the microwave.

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I made a pretty cool metal grate cover for this spot. Excited to see how it looks all painted & assembled.

I also started filling in the cavernous void behind the reinstalled picture rail.

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It took a lot of effort to find the motivation to do this. You cannot see this eyesore from anywhere other than the top of a 6′ ladder. Out of sight, out of mind. Knowing I still had to do it delayed my ability to begin priming. Why break out the paint brushes if this wasn’t done?

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A pastry bag of joint compound made the job less painful than I anticipated. I could/should have used real plaster but why? It’s a completely hidden void and the bucket of spackle was right.there.

It will need at least another coat. Massive globs of joint compound crack as they dry and this area is no different.

The biggest accomplishment of the month has been building out and installing the far left door of the soffit cabs.

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This was the cabinet I custom-built super wide. It’s about 51″ long. In doing that (making it longer to make full use of the blind space), there was no ready-made place to mount the left door.

What you see below is the build-out to mount the door to. The hinges are just peeking out on the left. The photo was taken from the right interior wall of the cabinet facing the front/door opening. You can see me and the far dining room window through the opening.

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I can take exactly 0% of any credit for making this happen. Dad, The Incredible did it all.

Well I did take these pictures, so that’s something. Ha.

One thing Dad, The Incredible does not do is the spackle, sand, repeat drill.

Or anything to do with a paintbrush.

I guess that’s 2 things. Or 17, if you count each layer, step & coat.

I did coerce him into helping strip the portico last year but usually building is as far as he goes. He will obsess over that last 1/32″ but has little to no patience for the tedium that comes with the finish work. I respect the man for drawing the line somewhere.

I’m very blessed for being able to work side-by-side and soak in his knowledge and experience. When we get to this point though, it’s all – you got this girl.

Unfortunately, the apple does not fall far from the tree. I loathe the spackle, sand, repeat drill and painting isn’t far behind. Spending Saturday morning snuggling my little land shark is much more appealing than lugging out the sander & shop vac.

Except, that’s what stands between me and a finished, functioning, stop-freaking-living-in-a-construction-zone kitchen. Maybe telling the Internet will light the fire under my tuchas to get ‘er done already.

Hold me to it, ok, friends?

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Kitchen: Baby Steps

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Nearly every day someone asks, “How’s the kitchen??”

“It’s getting there,” is my stock reply.

Because it is.
Slowly.
Surely.

Sometimes in fits and spurts. Sometimes at a snails pace. But it is getting there.

The past 2 weeks have been full of planning and projects and doing for things other than the kitchen. Renovations to repair the damage caused by the fire have yet to commence but are on the immediate horizon. The perfect skylight seems to be the current speed bump. A blessing and a curse. It would be lovely to have everything done already but I also don’t hate the delay.

When the skylight is resolved, the roof and getting the home’s envelope watertight will be top priority. Repairs will then move inside. With that will likely come the overwhelming process of packing out the entire house and moving everything into storage.

The floors need to be refinished and they right through every room of the house (minus the 2 bathrooms). The only way to refinish the foyer, hallways, and stairs is to refinish the E.N.T.I.R.E. house. The thought of it makes me want to curl under the covers and take a nap.

This past weekend we packed up all sorts of stuff to take to a neighborhood yard sale. Not my neighborhood. A cute suburban neighborhood where there are driveways and grass. Yard sales aren’t usually my thing. Hosting & selling, that is. Buying is fun. But I didn’t have to plan or do much of anything to coordinate this. 4 truckloads of furniture and junk were unloaded in said unsuspecting driveway. $167 was made before hauling what didn’t sell off to the thrift store.

I’m still not sure it’s worth the effort. I might have paid someone $167 to come cart all of this stuff out of the house and away. But there were friends and food and general merriment. A 70lb pig was roasted, beverages were drank, and soccer games were watched.

While I mercifully avoided the drama it took to get the pig actually on the fire, we did get roped into building the pit. Which is how I found myself at 9:50pm with this guy buying 3 dozen cinder blocks from Big Orange.

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I can take no credit for doing anything other than hauling 936lbs of molded concrete around multiple times but the pig was pretty delicious.

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All this to say – my Friday night and all of Saturday were completely shot. $167 was made! But 0% of that had anything to do with the kitchen.

And then came Sunday. Father’s Day. A day of rest for weary father’s everywhere.

Except mine.

Who came to my house and hooked up the range hood.

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That is love, folks.

2 weeks ago, you saw that it had been hung on the wall.

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It had to come back down to actually install the duct work though. Which Dad did. Single-handily. While Mom & I were upstairs talking about how much shit I have that will need to get sorted and moved if this whole “packing out” thing becomes a reality.

I did help hold it in place while he screwed it back into the wall.

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And then I took pictures. Like I did something. HA.

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Electric is even hooked up!

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I could use it! If the stove was installed. Which it’s not.

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The duct cover needs to be cut down a bit. It’s a bit taller than will fit, height-wise, here. But other than that, the hood is in!

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THANKS, DAD!! It really is getting there. Happy Father’s Day!

So Sarah’s like basically done, right? What are you guys up to? Making progress???

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Kitchen: Electric, Stripping & Getting Fancy

The thing about posting kitchen updates every week (rather than taking 3 weeks off and coming back with a killer HOLY-CRAP-LOOK-AT-ALL-OF-THE-THINGS post) is the amount accomplished looks a little piddly. It FEELS amazing though.

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This weekend was incredibly productive. Little details that had been hanging over me got crossed over the list.

Dad installed the outlets & light switch in the backsplash.

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I love that the black pretty much disappears on the soapstone. There’s a 3-gang to the left of the stove and a 2-gang to the right of it.

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The slight overhang of the shelf/ledge also comes out just far enough to cover the depth of the faceplate. I would love to pretend I designed it with that in mind but it’s totally a happy accident.

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We can go into more detail about the electric in the kitchen in another post but the switch controls the 3 can lights installed in the “kitchen” side of the ceiling. The other can lights (in the “dining room” side of the ceiling) are operated by a switch on the opposite side of the room.

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(old shot before cabinets were installed)

My best friend came into town for Saturday to get her hands dirty and help.

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This girl, man. THIS.GIRL.

We killed it with the trim.

The 36″ upper cabinets were looking a little pathetic last week.

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I had taken off the 15″ upper cabinet for the counter installation. Loosening the bolts on the 39″ high upper cabinet allowed the cabinet a little bit of play up & down, which I needed to get the backsplash installed.

I am planning use this nook of 36″ wide cabinetry to store most (if not all) of my china and serving pieces. Fun fact about me – I have a rather extensive collection of china/dishware. I think the count last stood at 7 different sets but I’ve never lived in a place that I was able to store everything all together. Hopefully this set of cabinets will house it all. Hopefully.

With that in mind, these upper cabinets are going to be HEAVY. I didn’t want to put all that weight solely on the rail system, so I designed the backsplash to come right up to the cabinet. The bottom, back edge of the cabinet actually rests on the top edge of the soapstone.

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Once the soapstone went in, the 15″ high upper could be reinstalled (which Megs did) and then we could trim it out with some crown.

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The more time consuming project was reinstalling the missing picture rail trim.

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I didn’t originally take it down, as you can see in the picture below.

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I thought I might be able to just work with it in place but, as things progressed, it became obvious that probably wasn’t the best choice.

Then I thought maybe I’d just pull the old nails out of it, slap it back up and call it a day. (And my mother just laughed.)

The trim was covered in 130+ years of paint, spackle & plaster. The edges and mitered corners were crusty, so I got out the heat gun to just clean that up a little.

2+ hours later, Megs & I had stripped the entire piece.

Here’s the thing about stripping lead based paint – in my personal opinion – it’s not all crazy ridiculous as most scare tactics lead you to believe. I’ve read the literature, guidelines and laws. There are certain protocols any professional company must adhere to so, if you’re hiring the job out, be prepared for a litany of requirements.

In NJ at least, things relax a little if a homeowner is doing the work themselves. Should you do your best to adhere to the guidelines as much as possible? ABSOLUTELY. Are they going to cart you off for not being perfect? Nope. Are you going to immediately get lead poisoning? If you’re careful and follow the guidelines, highly unlikely.

Do you own research. I’m sure every state is different. Here in NJ, you can strip lead based paint a variety of ways but I find a heat gun works the best. Use one that doesn’t get over 1100 degrees and wear a respirator. Covering your work area with plastic to contain the little paint bits is also smart. Then put it all in a plastic bag and throw out in your regular household trash. I hand-stripped the entire portico this way and it came out pretty spectacularly.

Anyway, that’s my little soapbox about lead paint. Be careful and smart but there’s no need to fear it.

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Because I had removed all the plaster from behind the picture rail, it needed to be built out a little more than just the poplar face I had already installed.

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Of course nothing is straight in this house, so the spacer piece ended up needing to be 3/4″ thick on one end and taper down to 3/8″ thick on the other end.

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There’s plenty of holes to fill, so what’s a few more.

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All in all – it’s really coming together! Getting this trim back up was huge with regards to getting the paint prep moving.

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Done by the end of June?? Maybe.

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Kitchen: Light at the End of the Tunnel

Been a couple weeks, huh? Quiet here. Not quiet in the kitchen. LOTS has happened.

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Hey gurl!

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Sarah happened to be flying to New York for a day (literally less than 24 hours) and, since my house is a 9 minute drive from EWR, I persuaded her to let me play hostess. Which is fun when you don’t have a kitchen and your truck gets hit by a girl running a red light on your way to pick her up at the airport.

Even though plans for a fun evening showing her a favorite neighborhood restaurant were hijacked by police reports and tow trucks and replaced with a bar pie at the local Irish pub, she was gracious and wonderfully understanding about the whole thing.

Attempting to make it up to her, we spent the afternoon after her morning plans grabbing a burger at The Spotted Pig and wandering around much of the west side of New York.

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BUT KITCHEN! You’re not here to hear about warm spring days spent sharing a strawberry basil popsicle while strolling along the High Line. You’re here for THE KITCHEN.

Last we caught up, I just just gotten the cover panel installed on the bottom of the soffit cabs and the 15″ upper cab was hung to the right of the stove. Things were primed & ready to paint.

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Since that time, I am happy to report the underside of the cover panel & the 15″ cabinet have both been painted.

The cabinet above the fridge was closed up.

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The counters were templated.

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Trim was added and doors were built.

And now, things look like this –

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BOOM!

Counters? CHECK!

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Finished island (expect for drawer pulls)? Check!

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Cabinet above the fridge? CHECK.

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Tilt out trays & cabinet doors installed in the sink cabinet? Check.

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Range hood hanging on the wall? 24″ cabinet installed in the blind? Trim installed on the underside of the soffit? Check. Check. AND CHECK.

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Under-cabinet lights? LIKE A BOSS.

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This kitchen is GETTING THERE, people!

Lots of finish work left to do. Cover panels need to hop on the 24″ cabinet that’s in the nook (not really pictured much in this post). The picture rail trim needs to be reinstalled along the soffit.

Then begins the caulking and patching. Sanding. Filling. More sanding. Tedium. Then on to the priming, painting, and painting drill.

There was a hiccup with my faucet which the dealer is working out with the manufacturer. A few faucet will need to be shipped out and then I’ll have to have that one stripped before I can get running water back on. Maybe in the next couple weeks?

The goal is to have the kitchen D.O.N.E. before the end of June. Optimistic? Totally. Doable? Maybe.

I hear Sarah is checking things off her list too. Just a couple of ladies kicking butt in the kitchen. As we do.

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Kitchen:

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So much progress you guys! So much.

After getting the soffit cabinets securely supported from their fronts, it was time to move on to installing the cover panels underneath them.

Pretty much every cabinet in the kitchen is getting wrapped in a cover panel of some variety. I don’t want the white IKEA boxes showing. Having the boxes wrapped in cover panels allows me to paint them the same color as the door, so they look like legit cabinets (not IKEA boxes I slapped some painted doors on). I’m also extending the cover panels 3/4″ past the front edge of the cabinet box so that the 3/4″ thick doors look inset (drool) without the cost of actual inset cabinets (win).

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The cover panels I’m using are from IKEA and match the Ramsjo white doors I purchased there. Both are getting painted, so I’m not TOO worried about them matching but the grains will match and they are 3′x8′ with finished edges. While they retail for $135, I kept an eye on the AS-IS section and waited until something decent came down to a price I was comfortable with. I ended up getting 2 for $20/ea, 1 at $33, and 1 at $15. Ended up being cheaper than plywood and I didn’t have to put any edge banding on them (well, mostly – I did on a few spots I cut and got a raw edge).

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On the bottom of the cover panel, about 2″ in from the edge, Dad & I routed out a channel for the LED strip lights.

This also gave us a place to hide the bolts. Drilled the hole and then used a spade bit to countersink it a little.

To aid in installation, we clamped a piece of 3/4″ thick poplar to the front edge. That way, we could just hold it in place and not have to worry about maintaining the 3/4″ lip along the front.

Once it was in place, the panel got through-bolted along the front edge where we had pre-drilled and then screwed in with drywall screws from the inside of the cabinet down into the cover panel. I pre-drilled the holes in the bottom of the cabinet too. For ease of installation and because all the bite of the screw should really be in the cover panel.

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The inside of the cabinet is littered with the black heads of drywall screws but, from the bottom, all you see is a nice smooth cover panel.

Once the cover panels for the soffit cabs were in, I could move on to hanging the 2 cabinets on this wall that will see a lot of daily use.

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I put glue on the back of the rail on the brick to fill in all the unevenness of the brick. I don’t put glue on the back of the rails on the walls.

I build the cabinets mostly like IKEA says. I put glue in the dowel holes and use my little 18g stapler on the backs. Then I wrap them in cover panels. This was in process –

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After it’s hung –

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The 24″ wide cabinet took a little more playing with because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to leave the 1.5″ opening or fill it in. I ended up keeping it.

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Then it was finally time to whip out some primer and get to work!

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Primed and – as of this very moment – 2 coats of paint have been applied to the blind, bottom of the soffit cover panel & the 15″ cabinet side of things.

Moving along. What’s Sarah up to??

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Kitchen: Flying High

Ahhhh, the end of April. For anyone in the college admissions world, you know that being able to breathe is only a day away. May 1 – the magical national deposit deadline – is just a few hours away. With that comes all of the last minute enrolling and anti-melt initiatives but the massive, show-stopping events, are over until fall.

Life will begin to resume some semblance of normalcy (whatever that means) and, hopefully, a more reasonable work-life balance.

A few weeks ago, I brought you up to the minute with where the kitchen was. I didn’t have anything to update because, with work, not much had happened in the kitchen.

This week, there is progress to share. DUN-duh-DUNNNNNNNNN!!!!!

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After Dad & I got the soffit cabs hung, they stayed like this for a few weeks -

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The front edge of the 24″ deep cabinets supported by 2x4s and clamps.

With such deep cabinets, we didn’t trust the downward force on the front edge of the cabinets to not weaken the connection of the rail out of the brick wall.

The front edge of this row of cabinets needed to be supported and the easiest way to do it was with some leftover IKEA cabinet brackets.

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This is what I needed to get the job done -

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Here’s basically how it went down:

Measure back far enough so the bracket doesn’t get in the way of the cabinet hinge.

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The top holes are too close to the top corner of the cabinet, so I need to use a flex drive to squarely drill the hole.

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Gloves protect your hands from the friction.

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Then go back the other way

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I used the holes on the diagonal because that puts the most material between the two holes.

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Once the brackets were secured, it was time to drill through the top of the cabinet and into the plywood above.

I find these zip-toggles are so much easier to work with than regular toggle bolts.

Then it was a matter of putting together all the right hardware – 5″ hex head bolts, the IKEA bracket plates, a couple fender washers and a hex head for my drill.

Thread the bolts into the toggles.

Tighten with the hex head in your drill.

Adjusting the bolts in & out leveled up the cabinets front to back. And – BAM! – just like that, no more 2×4′s were needed for support.

The soffit cabs were in, up and secure.

I put in 6 toggle bolts in total, plus the end in the blind is screwed directly into a stud. Don’t think these suckers are going anywhere. Which, after all, is kind of the point.

YAY!! PROGRESS!!!

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Kitchen: Cabinets. Island. Life.

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So last week I dropped the ball on updating you guys. I meant to do it Wednesday night and then Thursday but it never happened. Life has been…jam.packed.

I don’t really talk about my day job here but I work in admissions at a large university. Our office has been Director-less since January. There’s a new Chancellor and a major strategic planning processing underway. My biggest project/event of the year is coming up on the 12th. I’m solely in charge of planning, coordinating, designing, & all-around making happen our Open House. Last year we hosted over 2,100 people. It’s a lot of change and a lot to do but in an exciting way.

Planning & designing events and projects is what I do. Theatre & productions are at my core and, when you think about it, everything is a production. In the business & education world they just call it “project management.” Same thing. But I make things look good too.

Anyway, the point is – between work, the kitchen, the dogs (Bruce had cataract surgery and a liver thing on top of his relatively new diabetes), yoga (I’m doing the April 20 classes in 30 days challenge at my yoga studio), and life in general – it’s hard to fit in time to sit, reflect and update you guys.

Thank you for your patience and support. If you’re interested in more day-to-day snapshots of my life, head on over to Instagram. THAT I can manage to fit in on the regular. Love me some Instagram.

Because I don’t have the bandwidth to give you guys detailed How-To’s just yet, here’s a slew of pictures about what’s going on in the kitchen -

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Muriatic acid will easily remove the mill scale that comes on hot rolled steel. Water also rusts up the naked steel pretty quick. After getting the mill scale off of the steel, I played around with the acid (wearing chemical gloves & protective eyewear, of course) letting parts rust and then rubbing them with the diluted acid to remove some of it. I wasn’t sure how I wanted the steel to look but I didn’t want the mill scale on it and I didn’t want it to be a solid, flat color. I’ll talk more about this when I get around to doing a how-to.

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While this is a photo showing how I drilled & countersunk holes to bolt on the casters, it also clearly shows the dip line of the muriatic bath. The dark (left) side spot is mill scale. The right (lighter) side of the line is what was in the acid bath.

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Old lath. Steel. Stainless. Brassy slotted machine bolts. Brass pulls (eventually). Soapstone (eventually).

It’s fun to see something you designed in your head come together as planned (shockingly!) and look good.

What’s left for the island? Wrap the other side & back with lath.

Now for that 3rd cabinet I promised you 2 weeks ago.

The giant behemoth one on the left.

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This is what it looked like trying to put it up.

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(Thanks, Mom!)

I bought an IKEA cabinet because it was worth $40 to me to have the sides predrilled with all the holes. I replaced the top, bottom & back with custom cut pieces. Home Depot stocks 3/4″ melamine sheets, the thin backer material & white edge banding (to make it look like a solid piece). Word to the wise – don’t iron your finger when putting on the edge banding. It hurts.

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I’m pretty proud of these cuts. It all fit together as planned. You’d think I do this on the regular or something. (Oh wait…I do. haha)

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The wall bows. Whatevs. Caulk. The bottom of the entire row is getting covered with a cover panel anyway.

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The dark staggered dots are screws. Dad & I got this cabinet pretty level and screwed the side into the center stud. The dark line on the far left isn’t a crack in the spackle. It’s a pencil mark showing the edge of the corner stud.

We had taken cabinet #2 (the middle one) down to get cabinet #3 in.

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Cab #2 slipped back in the middle after #3 was up. It looked so small in comparison but it’s a legit 36″ wide. (HEEEYYYYYYYYYY STORAGE!)

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The whole row of 15″h cabs has been bolted together. Next step is to level them up by bolting them to the soffit ceiling on the front edges of each cabinet. I don’t want all the weight & force to rely solely on the rail mounted to the brick. They’re just too deep. By mounting them from the fronts too, the weight on the back rail becomes more of a shear force, rather than a twisting one. YAY engineering!

Also, my faucet arrived. In this hilariously giant box.

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I haven’t nailed down a decorative plater to do the stripping/plating yet. If you do that and want to help, email me. This thing is going to look amazeballs in raw brass. Raw brassy goodness….

I am THISclose to pulling the trigger on some pulls.

I dig these Mission style pulls from House of Antique Hardware. They’re the brassy one in the photo below.

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The biggest they come is 4″ and I was hoping to find something bigger for the 30″ drawers on my island. The ones shown above come in unlacqured brass but they feel a bit chunky. I like the more delicate lines of the ones from House of Antique Hardware.

A different company makes ones with similar proportions but they don’t come in brass. Story of my life.

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I’m getting closer to not caring and putting the 4″ers on everything.

So yeah. Moving along. Progress. Cabinets. Almost island. Making it happen.

What’s going on in your kitchen?? I hear Sarah is almost done. B!tch. ;)

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