Kitchen: Up, Up, & Away!

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As with any project, there are multiple moving parts & projects and I bounce around, often working on several things at once. Or at least several things each week. Last week, I talked about my foray into the wonderful world of welding. The week before, I was really excited about the soffit getting all buttoned up. We’re gonna bounce back to that this week.

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When we last left off, this is what the kitchen looked like. I no longer saw the underside of the upstairs bathroom floor and it was epic.

Over the past 2 weeks, Dad & I have been pushing really hard to get the upper soffit cabs hung. These 15″h x 24″d cabinets will hang directly under the soffit for seasonal and party storage.

Kitchen plan

3 – 36″ wide cabinets (IKEA stocks these in both 30″ & 36″) would almost fit perfectly across this open space. But, as you may recall, I have 14″ of blind space that tuck off to the left of the sink.

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I’m the girl who’s retrofitting every base cabinet possible for toe kick drawers. I’m not going to let 14″x15″x24″ of space go unused. So – like everything this kitchen – I must make it more difficult.

We began by hanging the rail. The math for where we decided to put the rail took into account a variety of variables. The soffit itself slopes a little but the cabinets should hang level. I am wrapping every cabinet with 3/4″ cover panels so that the doors look inset. I love the look of inset cabinets but not the price (obvs.), so I want room above it to add a panel &/or crown moulding.

While we’re on the topic of inset doors, Michelle at 4 Men 1 Lady just did a whole series reviewing her own kitchen now that it’s a couple years since her renovation. Her thoughts on insets cabinets were super interesting. I love her kitchen. SO pretty.

But back to my kitchen. The rail.

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Once we decided where it should go, we pre-drilled holes at the beginning and end of each span – making sure it was level – and put it up with masonry screws.

Make sure to add the IKEA hanger bolts before the 2nd piece went up. The second piece ran right up to the fridge cabinet wall, so we wouldn’t have been able to get them in after the fact.

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We added some construction adhesive to the back flat part of the rail, even though this isn’t part of the standard installation instructions. The brick wall is really uneven. The adhesive should help fill in the nooks & crannies, harden, and help stop any potential flexing. Plus it would add some additional staying power.

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This photo was to show the nifty little piece of scrap would we used to join the two pieces of rail, so that they lined up perfectly. What I see when I look at this photo though is an exhaust pipe that we deliberately permanently installed and then had to work around. We did a really great job of making sure it wasn’t going to move before we put the soffit plywood up. Almost too good of a job.

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We started at this end, so we’ll call this soffit cab #1. Soffit cab #1 has the exhaust pipe running through it. I did SUCH a good job planning that the exhaust ended up being right on the inside edge.

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Quick tip – use a nail set to make a divot where you want the pilot hole to be. It’ll keep the bit from walking.

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Then we used the 6″ hole saw from my recessed light installation to cut the holes.

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Our littlest helper dogs enjoyed the sun and the supervising. My parent’s dogs Phoebe & Jovi.

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We cut both holes before assembling this first cabinet but assembly went as per the directions. Mostly. I added some glue to the dowels.

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And a couple screws to the sides, since such a large hole had been cut out.

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Then it was just a matter of getting it hung. There are no photos of this because our hands were a little full. Just know that getting the cabinet over the rail and bolts with a rigid vertical impediment (the exhaust) proved to be a bit more of a challenge than anticipated. We ended up trimming off the top lip that’s on the backside of the cabinet.

You can see the bottom lip in the above photo. The top has the same thing. It’s supposed to cover up the rail and allow for wires to pass behind the cabinet. The top will never ever be seen, so it got cut off in a heartbeat when we realized that there was no way it was making it between the rail and the exhaust pipe.

Also – because I did such a fantastic job of planning things so the exhaust would be just about as far left as possible – it made reaching the far left rail bolt a bit challenging. The bolt for this side ends up tucked a little behind the exhaust. Luckily a 12″ bit extension fit between the cabinet side wall & exhaust.

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Cabinet #1 is up!! HUZZAH. Cabinets 2 & 3 in the next post. Cabinet #3 was also a special case. The middle one, #2, is the only cabinet of the bunch that didn’t require any modification. I’m sure I could make a middle child joke here but, as an oldest, I’m partial to the challenges that come with doing something for the first time.

I’m also noticing that the photo above has 3 ladders in it. All of which we used at the same time. One may think this is a lot of ladders but that would be incorrect. I think this represents half of the ladders in my house right now. So the real question is – how many ladders does a 1600 sqft rowhome actually need? Apparently 6. Plus a painters platform.

Now go check out Sarah’s grout and tell me what y’all have been up to.

Posted in kitchen | 4 Comments

Kitchen: Islands & Bucket Lists

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Have you ever dreamt about doing something?

Bucket list kind of dreamt.

Something that someday, somehow you’ll do.

Welding has been on my list for yeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrssssssssss.

I know. I’m an odd duck. (At least I’m not an ugly duck. OHHHHH!!!!)

But seriously. For me, welding has been something that I wanted to learn how to do.

I want to learn to weld.

I kept telling people. Putting it out into the universe. Someday. Somehow. Somewhere. I want to learn to weld.

This week, I got to do it for the first time. (!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Turns out, all you really need to do is make friends with a guy who lives in a firehouse and owns a welder, then ask and keep asking if he’d teach you how to weld.

Of course he says ‘yes’ but it’s merely a hypothetical, nice thing to say to the slightly crazy chick who has this weird obsession with learning welding. Until she texts you, “How’s Wednesday at 4?” Suddenly, shit just got real.

Being the gracious human being that your firehouse-owning friend is, Wednesday at 4 is fine.

And just like that, bucket list dreams start coming true and you see Lisa Frank rainbows with unicorns & puppies frolicking alongside a kitten with some wings.

WHEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!

“So what, exactly, are we welding?” you may ask. Fabulous question.

The base to my kitchen island.

Because the house is so narrow, I want the flexibility of a rolling island with the storage capacity of a built-in island. I’m making the kitchen island out of a 30″ 2+2 drawer base cab and a 15″ 1 drawer, 1 door base cab.

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Knowing how much I can load up a cabinet (you would really be amazed at my packing abilities), this island could get pretty heavy. But I still need it to roll easily. That means larger, high quality wheels. I can’t just bolt the cabinets together and shove 4 casters under it though. There needs to be some sort of base to tie everything together.

2×4′s would be too big. I still don’t want the island to be more than 36″ high.

Plywood might not be strong enough. Plus then I’d have to finish off the raw edges to make it look intentional.

Angle iron! 1.5″ angle iron. Strong. Visually appealing. The L part of the angle iron would make a skirt to cover the top part of the casters. Annnnnnnnd I would finally have an excuse to learn to weld.

Win. Win.

You should know that this island has been in the works for months. Assembling the cabinets. Spec’ing out the iron and getting it cut.

Dad knew a place by him to get the angle iron that would also miter cut the corners, so I gave him the measurements.

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I have never been here but, given the jumbled assortment of rusty metal and amount of awesome looking stuff, I’m pretty sure I’d love it. Anywhere with a looming threat of tetanus is my kind of place.

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Dad then hand cut the interior supports for the casters and Mom took photos so I’d have them for the blog.

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Everything arrived to me completely dry fit & ready to weld. #bestparentsever

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Then it was just a matter of me welding it up.

HA! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Let me just tell you. “just a matter of me welding it up” is a completely honest reflection of how naive and unprepared I was for how difficult welding actually is.

I have done research. I get the concept of welding. I understood the instructions that were given to me. I thought I would totally rock welding.

Look at how cocky & confident I was before that first weld. I so got this.

I packed up my To-Go bag of tools and carted everything over to “just weld it up.” (what? you don’t have a to-go bag for your tools?)

Everything started out so smooth. The pieces dry fit together nicely.

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It went pretty square without too much of a fight.

I got good instruction. It looked so easy!

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‘Like this.’ | For realz.

And then it was my turn.

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And I sucked at it so.bad.

REALLY incredibly bad.

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My crappy weld.  |  What it is supposed to look like.

But I kept going.

I got some help and it took way longer than it should have but ultimately, I DID IT.

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That last one was probably my best.

I did that. It looks like crap. But I did that. I melted metal and made something. Pretty proud of myself.

I could have given up when I got frustrated and melted through yet another spot of the angle iron.

It would have been faster, cleaner, and better results if I had just handed it over and asked – please just do it for me.

But I didn’t. I wanted to do it. I wanted to be able to say, ‘I did that. I welded that up.’

I picked the island base for my first weld project for a few reasons.

  1. It didn’t have to be pretty. Most of the welds will be forever hidden under the base of the island or under the cabinets, never to be seen again. The only ones people would ever see are on the outer corners and, well, that’s why God made grinders.
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  2. None of these welds needed to be structural. Overheating and redoing the welds can make things brittle and compromise the structural integrity of both the iron & the weld. I did plenty of both. Luckily, I’m not building a bridge.
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    The 1.5″ angle iron will carry the weight of the cabinets just fine. The cabinets will get bolted to the angle iron and the castors are bolted to the angle iron. It’s basically flat on flat on flat. Ultimately, I could have probably assembled everything without welding and it would have stayed together simply because, well, physics. And gravity.
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    The welds certainly make it easier but I’m not counting on them to carry any load. They’re not what holds this all together. Thankfully.
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  3. It seemed like a win-win solution. I needed a relatively thin, strong base for the island and I really wanted to learn to weld. SOLD.

I came home and spent a few minutes with the grinder, smoothing everything out. The corners are now shiny but I’ll deal with that when I attempt to finish the metal. And because I was SO excited to see if it worked, I slapped the casters on it.

And hopped on.

I’m the man. Or at least I felt like it.

And I have awesome friends and family who help make it all happen.

Now what have Sarah and all our other kitchen maniacs been up to??

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Kitchen: Buttoned Up

This was supposed to go up Wednesday but work & life has been crazy. My bad.

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Last week there was a lot of ground work laying. All sorts of little things that don’t look like anything but need to happen before bigger, more visually impactful things can happen.

Also, there was a lot of shopping. The very expensive, slabby gorgeousness kind of shopping. And then there was a trek through the less glamorous world of LED under cabinet strip lighting. Woof! That is an overwhelming swirl of options. The more I think I know what I want, the harder it seems to nail down.

Since you all were so helpful with the faucet situation (which has been mostly worked out), maybe you can help me whittle down the LED strip options. I’m looking at:

Lots of light. Dimmable. Not too cool. Not too warm. Not crazy expensive. I’d like to use a dimmable power supply, so I can operate them off a Lutron dimmer in the wall.  Suggestions?

Now onto the fun stuff.

WHAT I ACTUALLY DID THIS WEEK

DUN duh DUNNNNNNNNNNNNnnnnnnn.

This weekend…. oh man. THIS WEEKEND.

Dad came up and it is AMAZING what you can do with an extra set of hands. Especially an experienced set of extra hands.

We went from this -

before buttoning

to THIS -

Booyah.

That my friends would be a soffit all.buttoned.up.

WHAT?! WHAT????!!!

I know.

Do you know?? Do you realize what that means?

That means:

  • ALL of the electric has been figured out, finalized, and run
  • the can lights have been installed
  • the electric & box for the pulley outlet above the island is in
  • the duct work for the exhaust hood has been routed, installed, and sealed
  • EVERYTHING BEHIND THE WALLS IN THIS AREA IS DONE

Is the excessive use of capital letters ADEQUATELY CONVEYING MY EXCITEMENT???

This, my friends, is huge.

Installing that single sheet of plywood has literally been in the  making since I broke the tub drain back when I was renovating the 2nd floor bathroom.

Which would put us well over the 2 year mark for me having a hole in this part of the kitchen ceiling. I know.

I walk into what-was-formally-and-soon-will-be my kitchen and, for the first time since January 2012, I don’t see the underside of the upstairs bathroom floor. It’s shocking. And spectacular.

So what did it take to finally push things over that magic little threshold?

Well first, we installed a junction box for the pulley electric.

“Pulley electric? What is this ‘pulley electric?’” Let me explain.

The pulley electric will be an electric outlet on a retractable pulley that hangs over where my rolling island will soon live (mostly).

The thought was – it might be really nice to be able to use my mixer or electric griddle on the island without having to run extension cords which the dogs & I would (invariably) run into. And therefore bring anything that was plugged into it down to the floor with a crash.

To avoid crashing pans of hot oil, the concept for my pulley electric was born.

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Also, the old track light fixture used to hang on a box in this hole and I really didn’t want to have to deal with patching it. The hole didn’t line up with where I wanted the recessed lights though, so I had to come up with another solution. Making use of an already existing hole for some added electric seemed like a win-win.

(Yes, I hate spackling so much I crafted a use for this hole mostly because I didn’t want to patch it. It happens to be a pretty ingenious use, if I do say so myself, so lets just pretend it was 100% intentional.)(Which we both know it’s not.)

There was one small, tiny, little problem (of course; nothing is ever simple). The track light wasn’t mounted into a “box” so much as it was held up with paint and PFM (pure f*cking magic). If I am going to be pulling on this cord every day, the pulley electric needed to be in a box that was mounted properly and could take daily tugging. (that’s what she said.)(is that even funny anymore?)(of course it is) The last thing I need is to pull on the cord and bring down my entire kitchen/dining room ceiling because I didn’t mount this box properly.

Everybody likes a properly mounted box. (chortle)

To start, we cut down a box hanger that would span the two joists. The box hangers at The Depot only shrink down to 16″ and there’s 8.5″ between the joists in this bay.

Some tin snips made short work of cutting the two pieces down. Then came the tricky part of screwing the box hanger into the joists using only the 4″ opening for the box.

Luckily, over the years, my tool collection has expanded to include a right angle driver and a flexible shaft attachment. Since the hole was much too small for the drill driver, these attachments made it possible.

The existing hole only needed a little tweak before the box fit like a glove. Pretty easy for such a tight box.

Honestly, this could have been way more of a headache, so I’ll take the little victories whenever they come.

After the pulley electric was secured, we moved on to the range hood ducting.

DUN duh DUNNNNN.

This involved finding the center line of the stove opening and pulling up the spec sheet for the range hood. The spec sheet showed that the duct work needed to be 1/2″ to the left of centerline.

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Then it was just a matter of tracking that point straight up the wall. Yay levels.

Once we knew where the centerline of the exhaust duct needed to end up, it was a matter of tracking back over to meet the ducting we had previously installed above the fridge.

A few sheet metal screws to hold it all together.

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And some goop to keep the joints air tight and some strap hanger later -

TA-DAAA!!!

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Ready to exhaust whatever I inevitably burn. YAAAAAAAAY!

This kitchen never had an exhaust hood actually vented outside before. Getting it around all the plumbing and sistered joists of the upstairs bathroom was a trick. But we did it!

After the duct work was done, we pulled a few extraneous wires Dad & I had run but no longer need. No sense in keeping them in the walls if they won’t be hooked up.

Then it was time to cut a hole in some plywood and button her up!

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I chose to put 3/4″ plywood (as opposed to drywall) on the soffit because I wanted a solid, secure surface to mount things to. Along this wall, directly under this soffit are going to be 3 – 36″w x 15″h x 24″ deep cabinets. Like this -

Kitchen plan

IKEA sells these cabinets to use above refrigerators but I’m going to use them to create a row of soffit cabs. They’ll be filled with seasonal and party supplies, like the galvanized tubs I only bring out to put drinks in at parties. I’m not worried about getting into them every day. Since I have the height here (the ceilings are just under 10′ tall here), I might as well use that vertical space for storage.

Anyway, because the soffit (refrigerator, according to IKEA) cabinets are a generous 24″ deep, I plan to fill them with LOTS and lots of stuff. Hanging 3 boxes stuffed with 7.5 cubic feet of stuff (each) 10′ in the air off a single back rail with 2 tiny little machine screws into the sides of the cabinets makes me more than a little nervous.

I want to provide support in the front. I’ll use the same metal hangers IKEA puts in the back of the cabinets but mounted on the sides through the top of the cab instead. Through the top of the cabinet and right into THIS FABULOUS 3/4″ PLYWOOD.

That I have. Mounted on my ceiling.

Basically, this means I can almost install the upper cabinets. HOL.Y.CRAP. I never thought that day would come.

WHEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!

Sarah’s making some pretty kick butt progress on her tiling. She’s a fiend. Go check out everyone else who’s linking up too. It’s so fun to see everyone’s progress. :)

Posted in kitchen | 9 Comments

Kitchen: Please Stand By

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please stand by

I have a super long post about all the wicked awesome progress made this week but it’s not done yet and I’m late for work.

This evening, my friends. This evening. A thousand apologies.

In the meantime, go check out Sarah (and all the other kickass people that are renovating their kitchens. Her post that is undoubtedly on-time and full of progress.

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Kitchen: The Perfect Slabs

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So Sarah is going to regale you with how “epic” her little tiled backsplash is?

All those perfect little white rectangles. That’s cute.

I see your lightweight, ceramic rectangles and raise you two giant slabs of soapstoney awesomeness.

BOOM.

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Oh you want to see more?

Ok.

1.5 of these beefy slabs will one day (soon)(ish) be gracing my kitchen.

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Drool away. I won’t judge. They’re my new favorite thing – ever – and are only possible because of my amazing, generous, wonderful, spectacular parents.

Soapstone has been my counter of choice for this kitchen remodel since before I started the project (in 2012). It’s gorgeous, dark, honed, velvety, period-appropriate deliciousness. Back then I had my sights locked on mostly the DIY slabs.

You can cut soapstone with normal woodworking tools and, from what I’ve researched, get very nice results if you’re careful when doing it yourself. The labor cost savings are pretty significant and the only way soapstone fit in my single homeowner budget.

The reality of managing slabs of stone ourselves was something I routinely downplayed and thought I had nearly convinced my father we could totally handle 800+ lbs of stone ourselves. Without breaking, miscutting, or generally screwing any of it up, of course.

I say “thought” because the holidays and my birthday brought cards with little slips of paper in them that read things like, “Good for 1 slab of soapstone for the nook” and “Oh heck. Good for the rest of the soapstone too.”

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Excited. Humbled. Thrilled. Grateful. Looking forward to not killing my father’s back. All those things. So, let me – very publicly – say:

THANK YOU, MOM & DAD!!! You call it enlightened self-interest. I call it ridiculously generous and awesome. Tomato tomahto.

The mission continues to move forward towards counter install.

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Last Week | This Week

Drywall is getting spackled and this thing is awesome.

It’s a drywall sander that hooks up to your shop vac. I would recommend using your shop vac and not, say, your normal household vacuum cleaner because you were – perhaps – too lazy to walk up to the 2nd story and bring the shop vac downstairs. The drywall dust may cause your household vacuum to suddenly shut off and stop working.

Granted, it’s not as awesome as this but only $26 and takes up a lot less space on my tool rack. I’m still totally thinking about buying that power sander though.

The 36″ base cab doors, drawer fronts & side panels are all getting painted.

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The island is up next but can we focus on this for just a few more seconds?

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Sigh. It’s so completely perfect. Now…if I could just buy a faucet already…

What have you guys been up to? We know what Sarah’s been doing!

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Kitchen: Holy Sh!t Just Pick a Faucet Already

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My march towards templating has reached that point where decisions need to be made. Decisions that should/could/would have been made a long time ago if I 1) wasn’t completely difficult or 2) liked what normal people like.

Instead I find myself in a barren wasteland of “most people don’t want that”, “manufacturers won’t make that because there’s no demand,” “hate to say it but you might have to compromise”, and “as my wife tells me, sometimes you just have to get over it”. Thank you, Sales-People-of-Plumbing-Stores-Across-NJ. You have been oh so helpful.

All I want in a facuet is:

  • uncoated, unlacquered, raw brass
  • probably single hole but maybe a 2-hole bridge
  • a sprayer
  • goose neck with classic lines with a utilitarian slant
  • that’s affordable

Is that so much to ask for?

Apparently it is.

I found an affordable, single hole, raw brass faucet that I actually DO like – no sprayer.


Phylrich, Single Hole Bar Faucet

I found a brass faucet with classic, utilitarian lines, and a sprayer. It’s got a clear coat that would have to be stripped off to make it uncoated brass. Annnnd it costs $684 +tax before I even strip it.

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Kohler, Essex Faucet (K-8763)

This sexy ass brass bridge faucet by Perrin & Rowe. Uncoated is a special order. 2 month lead time. $1500. HA!

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If I could ADD a sprayer to anything or change the color of a polished nickle or oil rubbed bronze faucet to raw uncoated brass, a significant number of options would open up. The internet tells me you can strip the clear coat off of a brass faucet but I don’t know if that goes for faucets with other plated finishes. My guess is no but I have a couple calls out.

I still don’t completely understand why manufactures don’t sell an under the counter diverter add-on so you could add a sprayer to faucets without them. This probably highlights my glaring lack of plumbing knowledge but I still feel like this is a problem that should have been solved already.

I also need to pull the trigger on fun things like under cabinet lighting but I feel like the faucet is more important.

As it relates to moving the mission forward – I need to know what faucet I’m doing so that they can cut the holes in the counter. I hope to go pick out counters this weekend and schedule the templating. A few more things need to happen before they actually come to template but I’m getting close.

The island is in pieces but there is a plan. Plans are good. Action is being taken on said plan. Pieces and materials are being sourced. Most of the angle iron for the base is cut and the castors have been purchased. Now I just need to learn to weld and weld it all together. Minor details.

The side cover panels for the 36″ base cabinet have been fabricated, dry fitted, and prepped for painting.

Never mind that I haven’t actually painted them yet. That will hopefully happen this week. Along with painting the doors & drawer fronts that go with it. And the toe kick drawer. Then everything can get installed.

JUST ADD COUNTER. BOOM. DONE.
(except for the upper cabinets that will hang on the wall above it. minor details.)

The blind got drywall.

And corner bead. BAM. JUST LIKE THAT.

Now it “just” needs tape & mud. And sanded. And mudded. And sanded. And mudded. And sanded. You know, my favorite thing ever to do. #sarcasm

I feel like there was more but this is all I took pictures of. And, as we all know, if you don’t document it, it doesn’t count.

So that’s where we’re at this week. Steadily moving towards templating. Obsessing over faucets. Dreading the spackle. Ya know, the usual shiz.

Now go see what Sarah’s up to.

Posted in kitchen | 22 Comments

Kitchen: The March Towards Templating

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As I mentioned last week, the current goal is to get the counter templated and 3 things have to happen first. Sink cabinet. 36″ base cabinet (by mantel). Island.

Last week I got the sink cab doors on and the stiles fabricated. This week, I was able to add some blocking behind the joist hangers.


Before | After

This is honestly probably overkill but why not? Adding the blocking allowed me to get the last 2 screws in the joist hangers and it didn’t take all that much effort.

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I also got the inside completely painted. (Although I think I am still going to put some clear sealer on the 2×4′s, like there is on the laminated plywood.)

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And the stiles installed for good. Once the tip out trays arrive, I can install them and be done with building this cabinet.

Speaking of which – last week there was a question about tip out trays. Tip out trays utilize that wasted space in front of your sink, behind the dummy panels. The ones I got look like this -

tip out tray

They’re Rev-A-Shelf’s Slim Stainless Steel Tip-Out Tray, although I found them for a lot less on Amazon (not Prime though, so no 2-day shipping. boo). They come in stainless steel & plastic in regular & slim depth. I went slim & stainless but your situation my be better suited to something else. They haven’t arrived yet, so hopefully they’ll work as promised. Growing up, my parents have always had these at their sink, so it seemed like a no brainer to install them here.

In this tiny kitchen, every square inch matters. I loathe unused voids. Ditching the soffit. Tip out trays. Toe kick drawers. Maximize, maximize, maximize.

Unsurprisingly, I decided to add toe kick drawers to the 36″ base cab by the mantel.

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Last week I wasn’t sure whether or not I wanted to put forth the time and effort. Slapping on a toe kick and calling it DONE seemed so easy. And then I realized I’d always glare at that wasted 900(ish) cubic inches. Exactly zero people are surprised by my decision to take the time and do this.

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I did these a little differently than the other 2 base cab toe kick drawers, so I’ll write about that separately. But I built them. And they are spectacular.

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I also have the beginnings of an island.

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This piece needs the most work but there’s some metal fabrication that needs to happen next. I’m in a bit of a holding pattern until I can get that bought, cut, fabricated & installed. Soon though. Maybe this week.

In the meantime, cutting the side panels for the 36″ base cab is my next item on the list. It’s not going to be an easy cut but, if I can be patient, hopefully they’ll come out OK. Or at least OK enough not to have to redo them.

Once those are cut, primed, painted & installed, the 36″ will be ready to template and the only thing left will be the island.

And some drywall work in the blind.

Does it ever end??

No?

Ok.

Sarah is totally going to kick my ass. She’s so much farther along than me. Let’s see what she’s up to this week.

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments