Monday, August 31, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - Electrical Rough In

I learn so much every time we do work on our house. The more I learn the more I realize what shoddy work many people do. When we added our bathrooms 8 years ago we paid the electrician a lot of money to put in a new main panel and do other wiring. The left side of the picture is part of the crap that he did and the right side of the picture is our new proper subpanel. There will be no wire nuts in the new subpanel!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fires Rage....

We were in Pasadena and Burbank looking at our cabinets and shopping for drawer pulls and this site greeted us at every turn. It was eery watching flames lick down the hills even at that distance. I feel for those people in the foothills worrying about their homes every minute of every day.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - 30 days

One month into the project and we are starting to see real progress and starting to get so excited for the end. Please let the end be near! The rough in electrical is finally done, that was 10 days of slow but steady progress, the insulation is going in and the drywall is starting to go up. There are a few more rough in plumbing/gas items to take care of but all in all we should start to really see movement over the next week. I'm hoping that cabinets can get dropped in Friday September 4th. Wouldn't that be something? I found out that after the granite fabricator comes and measures it's 2 weeks for fabrication. That was depressing. They cannot measure until the lower cabinets are in.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - Making Do

This is how we're living now. Doing dishes in the bathtub, we have one burner in that old PureAire 1943 unit in the guest house that we can reach. The washer and dryer are blocking most access to that unit. As you can see, Dena is holding breakfast over the washer. The other picture is our old Kenmore fridge, still surviving, despite it's new home in the dining room. The birds, pantry and prep area are all in the dining room now.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - Day 22

Today marks the beginning of the 4th week of the kitchen remodel. For almost 3 full weeks there has been nothing but destruction. Each week the demolition continued until I couldn't fathom how there was anything more to remove from that kitchen/laundry room/breakfast nook area. Finally, right near the end of week 3 we see rebuilding. Some rough in plumbing is done, as you are all well aware....

Probably 50% of the rough in electrical is done. It is amazing the number of decisions that are required for each trade. For electrical you need to decide where each light goes, which lights are on what switches, where the switches are going to go, if the switches will be 3 ways, will they be dimmable, what size recessed lighting? 4", 5" or 6", what type of trim? White? Chrome? brushed nickel? What type of lights? Florescent, incandescent or LED? Well, we had our eyes set on LED but the technology just doesn't seem to be there yet and it is way too expensive for any kind of decent ROI (return on investment). I've also spent hours researching under cabinet lighting. You'd think that would be easy but it proved to be extremely challenging with the end result finally going to fluorescent tubes for two simple reasons, it made that granite just pop with color, texture and detail and cost. You can't beat the price.

All the walls are removed, the pocket beams installed, hold downs are in and amazingly enough, drywall should start going up tomorrow. Can you believe it? It seems like it's been an eternity that we've been washing dishes in the bathtub yet seems like only yesterday that the demolition started. Life is funny like that I suppose.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - Tough Decisions

I find one of the toughest decisions when doing a bathroom or kitchen is tile and the whole color scheme thing. I find it increbibly challenging to visualize the entire wall, tile layout and how everything will go together. This time, I made sure that some of that visualization was helped with samples, a sample of the cabinet door, sample tiles, even a sample of the sink. This is what our final product should look like.....

We had struggled with colors of stain, tile and over all color palette for almost a year and for some reason had not gone back to our favorite tile store, Mission Tile West - South Pasadena. Nancy has helped us in our tile choices for, well, a decade? We've always appreciated her input and a big shout out to Nancy!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Into Each Remodel a Little Rain Must Fall.....

After the Dodger Game we came home to a note on our gate. The note said that our good neighbor turned off the water to our house after they heard water running and saw it cascading down our driveway. That day was rough in plumbing day so a pipe must have burst. Obviously, I was upset. After checking out the kitchen, in the dark, it was obvious that water was all over but not as bad as it could have been. I called the contractor and told him to get his a$$ over here early in the morning and we gave thanks for good and vigilant neighbors.

The shock came the next morning as the sunlight illuminated the truth. It wasn't so much that there was a flood, it was that the fire was so hot that it melted the sodder on the copper pipe that then burst, causing a geyser of water that put out the fire. Does this sound over the top to you? Well, it should, because even as I type it I still cannot believe it. There is truly someone or something watching over me. The what ifs are endless but none of them relevant as a miracle truly occurred.

As you can see by my friends' artist rendition of the actual event in the blog post below, all of the planets were aligned. During soddering of the copper sink riser an ember must have manifested itself in the dry 1920's redwood 2x4's. There are a few termite trails in these from days past and perhaps the ember smouldered in there. The smouldering took what we figure was about 3 hours to ignite before the water was turned off. Below is also a picture of the melted PVC drain pipe.

Kitchen Remodel - Is it Hot in Here?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - Day 16

Here they are putting in the 2nd pocket beam. This will support the wall that was between the laundry room and the kitchen.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - Discovering History

During our tear out of the last floor level in the kitchen we discovered an intact newspaper from November 7th, 1933. In the old days if they needed an eigth or sixteenth they would just use the newspaper as a shim. That appears to be what they did here. November 7th, 1933 was election day. They were voting to end prohibition. Here are some pictures of that paper. We hope to frame it and hang it in the new kitchen. By the way, you could get a pack of smokes for .15 cents and a new toaster for .69 cents, but if you wanted a cord on that toaster it was .20 cents more.....

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - Day 15 - 5 Floors?

We knew we had 3 floors, the blue linoleum, followed by a 1/4" wood chip filler layer, then the "stone" linoleum, followed by another 1/4" filler, then the lovely green Armstrong flooring. We were surprised to find below that a mix of douglas fir vertical cut and solid oak hardwood flooring for another layer. This all had to be removed as well. In the interest of time and money I decided this would be a good weekend demo project. It was cathartic and great exercise.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - Day 11

There has been much progress. All the debris is removed including the 4 partial walls that basically opened up the entire space into one big room. As Dena says, it's a blank canvas now. Naturally, problems were discovered, as happens in houses, old and new. We have a couple new beams and feel generally better about the structural soundness of the house. While the marriage is still in it's honeymoon phase with our contractor things are going very well and thus far we are happy.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - Day 10

This is our second huge debris pile....and they are not quite done with "debris".

Monday, August 10, 2009

Direct Buy Follow Up

Short post today but just wanted to comment on how many comments and emails I get regarding Direct Buy. I've gotten 2 just in the last few days.... My position still stands on what a scam it is. I've spoke to people at cocktail parties and gatherings about it and some of them have been there and sat through the presentation and then ran and some were always curious but never went.

It's interesting that my original post was from 2008 and they are still hounding people today with new dining rooms, new living room sets, expensive watches, etc. Have they not heard that we are in a deep recession? I suppose they don't really care as long as they have your initiation fee. Oh, and don't forget, initiation fees vary by geography and demographic and of course, there is a monthly fee to go along with that....
For the original blog post, see below.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

On Top of the World in Los Angeles

Here I am standing on the helipad 55 stories up atop the LA Live building. I was "supervising" the Sprint promotional film crew that was doing a piece on my company.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - Day 4

Here are a couple demolition pictures....there's really nothing left and after those partition walls come out.....there will be even less.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - Day 3

Here I am cooking amidst the old cabinets outside in the backyard.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - Day 2

Ah the mess.....It's exciting, yet freaky. It turns out that there is termite damage, but not much. The window is coming out and being replaced with a high energy star compliant window but the real problem, because let's face it there are always problems with an old house, is the fact that when this "new" window in the 1950's was put in they just cut the studs and did no reinforcement whatsoever. So that coupled with termite damage and there's not too much holding up that section of the outside wall.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - Day 1

Today we finally, after 5 trips to granite yards (or was it 6?) we picked our granite. This turned out to be quite a difficult task where at first we picked something called Rainforest Amazon and that turned out to be marble. Marble is no good for kitchen counters, it's too porous. Live and learn. We discovered a granite that was like our amazon (green with brown and white quartz veins) and it was called Verde Borgonha. But, we dragged our feet to think on it a little more and all the slabs we knew were around at a couple yards were now spoken for. Even if you find something you like, you have to pick the actual slabs as it could be slightly lighter or darker or whatever depending on the cut.

Today we ran out to Walker Zanger's slab yard in Sun Valley where it's so hot the rubber on your shoes starts to stick to the pavement. They had some but it was on hold by some San Franisco designer that had Verde Borgonha on hold at every yard he could find. Nice. But money talks and bullshit walks and it was ours!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - Day 0

Well, tomorrow they start. We've cleaned out everything from all the cabinets. We've had our garage sale, we've donated and done the best we could to be ready. Who can be ready for 3 months of no kitchen? Every room of our house is filled with boxes of dishes and canned goods and wine glasses and, and, and.....who knew we had so much stuff?