Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Never-Ending Story of Our Renovation

So we're officially in week 7 of remodeling, which was sort of our deadline, and we sort of met it. I say "sort of" because while we are technically going to move into our house this coming Saturday, it's not entirely functional. But let's look at the bright side, shall we? At least we have a place to live!

This week and last has been focused mostly on the kitchen. We had to get the cabinets installed and pour the concrete countertops. We chose concrete for a couple reasons - we love the look, and it was waaay cheaper than going with quartz or granite. For comparison, the "absolute black" granite that we would have chosen would have been $2K just for the granite, then add in the cutting, polishing, and installation, and it would be just ridiculous. And there's very little we could do to reduce the cost and DIY. The concrete, on the other hand, was about $500.00 for the molds, countertop kit, and concrete, and then it's just a bunch of labor and a giant learning curve.

Installation of the cabinets

The cabinets with Durarock and countertop molds screwed in.

We used the counter kit from Z Counterform. Their videos make it look easy. Warning: it is not. It is also extremely messy! Monkeys throwing wet concrete around would have been only slightly worse. I just walked out of the room while Mike was dealing with it. I couldn't watch.

You have to put wire inside the concrete to give it something to adhere to.

Mike screeding the concrete....right onto the floor.

Screeding is when you level the concrete by drawing something across it, and it has to go somewhere. In our case, it went right off the counter onto the kitchen floor, which thankfully wasn't installed yet. So it landed on the plywood subfloor...still very upsetting for me! But concrete doesn't stick to flat surfaces, so Mike was able to clean it all up in a matter of minutes, and we are no worse for wear. It was a great exercise in just letting things go and believing it will all work out in the end! Seriously, who needs couple's therapy? Just remodel a house.

breaking off the molds to reveal Mike's handiwork!

at this stage, the counters need to cure for a few weeks.

The concrete goes in super dark, but dries a beautiful light gray color. It's modern, industrial, and fits our aesthetics perfectly.

close up of the edge. We may leave the pits, I think they add character!

Yep, we did an undermount sink on a poured concrete counter.

The counters will be curing for about 30 days (whoops! we sure didn't do that on the right timeline) before we can have them polished and then seal them, but they're hard and not susceptible to dents or dings, so we can move in and not worry too much about it. 

Next things to do - paint and put in the floors. 

painting with the new neutral - gray.

painting walls with vaulted ceilings is a lot of work!

I wanted light floors and Mike wanted dark. Since we wanted to go cheap (no one in the neighborhood has hardwood, so it didn't make sense to go all out), we went with a nice dark laminate that mimics hand hewn wood. Laminates have come a pretty long way since the first days of Pergo! As Mike and Tyler (our new BFF contractor friend) did the floor installation, I couldn't imagine how much dust hardwood floors would be to install, if laminate kicked up this much dust.

installing the floors in the living room.

Mike cut and installed all the underlay on the floors.

Kitchen floors installed. Please excuse our dust.

One major cost cutting factor in our remodel is the electric - my part time job is for an electrician, so we are getting parts at cost, and a big discount on labor. We installed six super nice, adjustable recessed LED lights in our living room. 

four of the six lights installed.

Finally, a glimpse at our almost completed bathroom! The tile is all in, the vanity is half installed, and I've got a first coat of paint on the walls. We may be living without the glass wall or door for a little while, as we're off to Chicago and LA next week, and we're strapped for time. I never thought I'd ever say this, but I can't wait to stop traveling and just stay home for a few months!

two views of the new bathroom


a peek into the shower from the vanity area

We move in this weekend and while we're living there, we'll still be finishing up all sorts of projects - installing the mirrors, pendant lights, and rest of the vanity for the master bath, all the trim, new doors (or possibly painting the old ones), kitchen backsplash, hood, shelving, closet organizational system, full remodel of the guest bathroom, and oh yeah - a secret reading area hidden by a swinging bookcase. And did I mention I bought a bunch of heirloom seeds for our not-yet-created garden and raised beds? It's going to be a busy spring!