renovation

New Siding, Fresh Paint…and an Addition!

Over here at This Mod House, things have been really rockin’!  We are completely sided and painted, which has been a long time coming!  Want to see how things went over the past two weeks?

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The siders started with adding trim around the windows.

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After the first soffit material was torn out (due to our late decision to remove the original fin walls), we needed to redo the soffit and chose this ventilated composite material. The siders put it up as they worked their way around the house with the window trim.

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And this ended up being the new siding choice. We were considering several different siding panel materials, and ended up with Hardie because it was available in a 10′ length. Our house is about 20′ 6″ tall on most sides, so this length allowed for two full panels with a break mid-way down and a break close to the foundation. We liked that configuration best.

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Siding the top half of the house was very hard work. The panels are so heavy!

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The back of the house with its new siding.

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You may have noticed the 2″x6″ vertical boards running down the length of the house on both sides of the windows in the the previous photos…Here’s a closer look at this detail on the garage. After removing the original fin walls, we thought the house looked too flat and decided to add the boards.

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All sided-up, we needed to choose a paint color. Since the beginning, we have been planning on painting the house a dark charcoal. The black chair is for reference, as the fascia and downspouts will be black metal. What color did we go with???

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Urbane Bronze by Sherwin Williams! As the name implies, there is some brown in the color, but I think of it as a warm dark gray. The cooler charcoal grays felt too dramatic. 

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I hope it’s not too dark, but I think it will be great with the planned rich-stained cedar accents above the windows.

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A pic from this morning.  This is how one end of the house looks with the black metal fascia.  Do I dare say things are starting to look better around here?  The key word is “starting”….Still have much to do!

 

I haven’t forgotten to tell you about The Addition!  No, there is not a big change to our renovation plans… No proposed additional square footage….We aren’t that crazy!  But we are a little crazy, and felt the desire to add a bit more excitement to the household…  Have a look at our newest family member:

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Introducing “Jarkko” (pronounced Yarkko). It’s a Finnish/Swedish name, meaning “God is Gracious”.

Our 8 week-old lab pup is the grand-pup of my grandfather’s last hunting dog.  And Jarkko’s mother is also the mother to my dad’s last dog that he loved so much as he was battling leukemia.  This is one special Addition to the family!

 

 

 

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Back at It!

Hello, Friends.  So sorry to have kept you hangin’.  Although it’s been quiet on the house front the past few weeks, I have been itching to write.  And today is as good as any.  Actually, its better than any,  because today:

THE KIDS ARE ALL BACK IN SCHOOL!!!!

And!

THE SIDERS HAVE ARRIVED!!!!!

Both developments are nothing short of fantastic!  The kids are back having their minds engaged, and my house is back to getting whipped into shape.   And I am back with a few hours to myself for posting and tackling the piles of laundry/detritus from the long weekend.  So happy to have some good news to share!

Since my last post, the only house things that were worked on were the balconies.  I snapped a few shots:

 

 

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Here’s a photo from the archives, showing the master bedroom balcony joists that were cantilevered inside. Obviously, there were some rotten boards. We had high hopes of keeping them intact, maybe cutting them down from 8 feet in length to 4 feet. Inspector said “No way, Jose!”, and we were forced to cut them off completely

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Prep work.

 

 

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Joists cut into the house.

 

I really wasn’t too upset to lose the rotten joists… We all know Rotten=Bad.   But, there’s another side to the story (literally).   And that would be INSIDE.  Only look if you are brave!

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My brand-new dining area. Quarantined. New ceiling. Hacked up and thrown away like garbage!

Why the inside invasion?  Because we are wanting the new balcony to look like the old one design-wise (cantilevered), and that means new joists must run two times the length of the balcony inside.  Here’s one reason to remodel the exterior of a home before the interior!   Live and learn!

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The newbies: 16′ pressure treated boards.

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And they’re up! The new deck will be 5′ deep.  You can see the new boards are sistered to the existing interior joists inside.

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The inside shot.

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Finishing up some details, so that the area is ready for the siding material to come.

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And here’s the small balcony off our daughter’s room. Luckily the joists here were considered stable, and just some minor changes were required. Whew!

There will also be a mini balcony off the upstair’s loft.  Just enough space to swing the door open and sing to the tree-tops if so inclined!

Well, that’s about it for progress.  The dining space is still under quarantine, so the rest of the main floor is suffering the consequences of misplaced furnishing until the area is patched and painted, and we can put it back together.  Kind of a drag, but it should be remedied in the next few weeks -Yay!

And it’s almost time to get the kids!  Where did the day go?  The guys have been hard at work.  I haven’t even stepped out to see what they have done, but from the sound of things inside, it’s been a lot!  So look for a post in the not-too-distant future about our siding progress.  Liking the way that sounds!

 

 

  

 

House Love – Getting to the Heart of My Exterior Reno

It’s official.  The honeymoon phase of our relationship is over.  Sooo over!  I’m talking about my 49 year-old modernist house, of course.  (Because every minute with my husband of 18 years has been sublime, and exponentially honeymoony.  Ha!)

It’s nothing I didn’t see coming.  I knew this house needed a lot of work, and eventually the renovation would go from fun and games to a bit of a drag.  But as the saying goes “No pain, no gain”, I am hoping the “gain” manifests itself soon, or I may LOSE MY MARBLES!

Don’t get me wrong, I still love my house.

Our relationship is much too strong to throw in the proverbial towel.  I have seen it at its worst, looked beyond its rotting wood and peeling paint, and fell head-over-heels.  And , inside, it cleaned up really well.  So smitten with its new handsome maple floors and open-plan layout!  Who says they’ll never change?

Outside, the transformation has been slow, and things seem to be going in the wrong direction. What was supposed to take the month of June, start to finish, is now in its 3rd month, with no end in sight.  Why?  This bad-boy of a house has some serious problems, more than first understood.   Hint: That’s where this post is coming from.

And because no one likes a Negative Nelly, I want to assure you I have tons to be grateful for in terms of the house reno:  (45 minutes later…)  Well, I guess “tons” is a bit of a stretch, but I can say that I know in my heart that we will get the results we set out to achieve.  It just might take a lot more time than expected (and our first-born’s projected college tuition – Sorry Kiddo!).

Enough chattering….Here’s the photo scoop from the past couple of weeks:

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Guys hard at work installing the soffit material.

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You can see the soffit all closed up, with the continuous venting, cut around each and every of the 24 fin walls that enclose the window and door areas.

Just to be clear, the work shown above took about a week, and two of the days included a second “crew” on a second lift.

That Friday morning, there was an unfortunate (but not completely unexpected) discovery.  When starting to replace the worst siding panels, it was determined the wood underneath was rotten in the areas by the fin walls/windows and compounding the problem, the windows were improperly installed and flashed.  A meeting of the minds resulted in an entirely new plan.  The fin walls were to come off.  All of the siding was to come off.  The soffits and venting completed the previous week would have to be redone.  And when that got going, the observation of little/missing insulation in the walls led to upgrading the basic house wrap to a 1″ thick foam board.  Ultimately, this was good for the house.  But bad for the wallet.  Gulp.

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Removing the fin walls was a big job. The method of choice involved cutting it and prying it loose, and finally pulling it off the main body of the house using a chain.

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The lift supplied the power necessary.

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Lowering the top half to the ground.

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Temping where the fins are off.

Working in sections, the guys removed the fin walls and put up the insulation panels.

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1″ foam board will insulate and bring the wall almost flush to the window framing.

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The front of the house. Foam panels are on most of the house by the end of last week. The seams are still being taped today.

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Where there once stood a fin wall, a concrete support must be removed to the ground.

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Taking down one of 22 cement supports….

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Deck boards coming up to get at the concrete supports.

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The concrete needs to be taken below deck level.

I bet you may be wondering where we may be going with the design, now that we removed another original architectural element.  Our architect came out and drew up another rendering.  Here it is:

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It’s kind of hard to see the details, but we plan to trim out the windows with larger vertical boards to create new, but less dramatic fin walls to contain the stained cedar accents. The decking on the balconies will be cedar, and the railings painted black.  The siding material is still getting figured out, but we like the idea of painting it a dark charcoal.

As much as it’s difficult to be changing things up so late in the game, we know we need to do it right.  In the meantime we will be practicing patience and hope the change-order monster stays away going forward!

Oh, and I wanted to share what we found when we returned from a 5-day vacation!

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Surprise!

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Sure it’s a broken window….And we still don’t know the cause, but can you see the glass shattered away leaving the shape of a heart? I am taking it as a sign that our house loves us back.

Yo-Yo Renovating – The Ups and Downs of Remodeling a Mod House

Summer is upon us, and what should be a more carefree, relaxed few months of the year, has taken a different turn in my little world.  No trips yet to the lake for me.  No m’am/sir!   More likely, my summer day includes a trip to Menard’s and Home Depot.  What about gardening and planting flowers?  Fuh-gid-a-bad-it!  Anything within 100 feet of the house is in the work zone, and sure to get trampled.  Ah, the joys of remodeling!

Okay, I am being a bit dramatic… It’s not like this house project has been forced on me.  I chose to take it on, and happily so!  (Why didn’t somebody stop me???)  Anyway, it has been quite the challenge with many ups and, to be fair, many downs.  I wonder if there is such a thing as “renovation therapy” to get people through the tougher legs of the house-improvement-journey?  I swear I have developed multiple personalities since this all began…I’m only kind of kidding!

What’s the back-story for this woe-is-me attitude?  It has been a slow week on the ‘ole pra-jay.  I have been crazy frustrated, as the weather has been cooperating, but not the workmen!  There have been various excuses made for the guys to not be on my job, like incorrect weather forecasts, and my not being cool with the carpenter’s 7-year old kid coming to “work” with his dad all day….But I know these guys have other jobs going, and you know what that means.  My project was being stalled.

Of course, I complained.  A lot.  Called, texted, emailed.  Lots of negativity (by me).  I put my foot down!  No more Mrs. Nice Gal!  You might even say I was being just ever-so-slightly bitchy (no doubt)….

So this is the craziest part:  James, the builder/remodeler/owner, had a way of talking me through the frustration and helping me understand the situations.  His response to each complaint seemed genuine, and he always pledged to try to resolve the problems.  One point that has been made is that our project is different than most.  It’s residential, but has a lot of commercial-type details like the flat roof.  Mod houses like ours come with unique challenges, and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of dudes around who are super comfortable with this type of residential design.  Many of the subs primarily work on commercial projects, so there’s a few things that get “lost in translation”, in dealing with me and my house.   Anyway, James most definitely has talent when it comes to calming down a client in a tizzy (Now, if he could just promise his guys will come to work each day…)!

So, here’s where we are at:

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The main roof has been insulated, pitched, and has its fully adhered rubber membrane glued. The raised part is the top of the soffit that goes around the whole house.

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With the main roof mostly complete, things got going on the garage. Here, you see the new soffit getting built. It will only be on the front side. Other sides will be flush with the walls.

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Roofers take over, giving the garage the same treatment as the main house.

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The garage roof all done (except for finishing touches on the parapet). Isn’t it pretty?

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Close-up of the scupper, where the water drains from the garage roof into a future downspout/gutter.

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The guys are adding the strip vent and the underside of the soffit. It’s the same stuff (Hardie Cement Board) as the siding and will be painted along with the house.

Today I am feeling positive, even optimistic, that the project is en route to completion.  I won’t get my hopes up too high, as I know there’s lots left to do, and surely a few roadblocks to come.  But, I will take this “up” mental state for now, and when the “down” surfaces, I know James (aka “The Remodeling-Client Whisperer”) is just a phone call away.

p.s.  Dear Friends,  I promise to get back inside for future posts!  Sure, I will continue to share the progress on the exterior, but I know it’s a bit technical/boring, if it’s not your thing.  Have been saving up some goodies like how my stairs turned out, and yesterday, I finally got my island counter top replaced!  Sooo exciting!  (I am really not that exclamatory in person, but it sure is fun here!)

This Mod House Exterior Remodel Begins!

After some unanticipated delays (having to find another builder and weather conditions (darn Minnesota!)), we finally have lift-off on the exterior work.  And as we wrap up the first week of this much-awaited phase of our renovation, I thought I should post and get you updated!  Here’s a photo montage of week #1:

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Back side of the house, basically pre-reno. The guys begin by removing all of the batten trim covering the seams of the Hardie Board siding.

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Battens carefully removed. We will be reusing some of this material.

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In addition to the batten removal, the guys started demo on the rotten decking of the two smaller decks.

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Decking off daughter’s bedroom and upstairs loft on the front and side of house.

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This deck is totally rotten and getting totally removed.

On day #3 (this past Monday), the crew of two became three.  I got them to stay still for a minute.

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Introducing the exterior crew: Chris, Nathaniel, and Forrest

These guys worked all day tackling the master bedroom deck and then went way up to get familiar with the awnings….

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One thing these guys are not, is afraid of heights.

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As you can imagine, taking apart the awnings from above is slow and dangerous, at best.

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Dismantling the awning over the garage.DSC_0602

The awnings on the second floor were too difficult to remove from above, so the next day a lift showed up:

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Still dangerous, but so much better. The awnings (all 14 of them) come down much, much faster.

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Our two story window wall has lost its visor. The house is taking on a new look without the “diving boards”.

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Yesterday a meeting of the minds was taking place on the roof…

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They invited me up.

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Just hanging with the roofer (far left), James, Mike, and Forrest. James and Mike are the owners of the renovation company we hired for our exterior project.

So here we are, 5 days in.  Things are going well, as far as I can tell.  No big surprises.  The plan is to get rid of all the rotten/rotting icky stuff.  Bye, bye existing decks and canted awnings!  An approx. 2 foot soffit will be added around the entire house to clean up the roof line, and we will be getting a new rubber roof (which is one of those things that cost a lot of money and go unseen–shoot!)  At the time of this post, we have decided to rebuild a mini balcony off our daughter’s room (Shhh! It’s a surprise!), and one off the master.  There are plans for a service door for the garage too.  Other than that, it’s pretty much painting the whole house, and adding some stained cedar accents on select areas.

So glad to be back at it–making this house our home.  And if you are wondering, I have more to talk about regarding the inside, just not more time today.  Plus, I have kept you too long already!  Thank you for reading and have a good one!

Ikea Delivery Drama

Having chosen ikea cabinetry for our remodel has been, how can I say it… a learning experience.  It hasn’t been an easy, straight-forward process, and Monday morning, I was a serious doubter (for about 30 minutes).  An hour later than expected, the truck carrying the contents of our kitchen, couldn’t make it up the incline half-way up our driveway.  The driver made several attempts at a running start, with no luck.  I thought they were close to giving up, and then the truck veered off the cleared drive, and into the deep snow.  They were stuck.  Half-way up.  My heart sank.  I thought we were going to have a delivery truck blocking the driveway until the spring thaw!  Here’s a visual for you:

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My kitchen project depends on getting this truck up the driveway. The tree miraculously was unharmed. That would have been a bummer!

Here’s another view of the truck’s location:

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You can see headlights reflecting on the glare ice.  We can’t leave to get some sand, so we search the garage for something that could help provide some traction.

And one more photo for ya:

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Yay! After about 30 minutes of shoveling, snow-blowing, and the traction from a large piece of plywood, the truck breaks free of the snow! Oh, yeah, we also sacrificed a West Elm jute rug, and here you see it on a second mission to cover the iciest portion. It was only a 5×8, and dirty anyway, so no tears involved. Just glad it got my kitchen to its destination!!

I applaud the delivery guys for never giving up.  I seriously thought they were just going to back up, and get the heck outta there, leaving me high and dry.  Had they not made it up the ice, it would have been a huge undertaking to cart the boxes the rest of the way on foot.  You could barely walk!  So, it all turned out okay, and my kitchen install commenced as soon as the truck pulled away!  Here’s what that looked like:

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Ikea kitchen delivered. Whoo-hoo!

A little side note about the planned installation:

I was not satisfied with the Ikea installation company (out of Chicago) who bid the project over $5,000, and could not accommodate my requested dates.  So, I searched online, and found a guy who advertised installing ikea kitchens, and called him up.  He came the next day, and prepared a bid that night.  He appeared confident and said he had done something like 25 ikea kitchens, even having worked a stint with Ikea, until he started his own business.  And!  He could start work my preferred week.  Jay, our builder, just suggested I make sure he is insured, and he promptly provided that information.  Sweet!  His name is John J. and he and his partner have been doing a fantastic job!

Here’s how things were shaping up on the first day of the install:

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John and Brendan at the end of Install Day #1. Great start!

Yesterday, John (architect) and Jay (builder), spent time addressing a few minor issues that came up during the install.

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Install Day #2:  Sharing ideas…

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Early afternoon of Day #3 (today). It’s really taking shape! I think it’s going to be awesome!

I know I have probably exhausted you with all these photos, but here’s just three more:

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This is Brendan, working on the few base cabinets we are installing in the basement. (See that painted floor? I did that last week!)

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And this has been my project this week. Removing staples left from the carpeting on the stairs is not a job for the faint-at-heart. About an hour per step, with a screwdriver and pliers. It basically sucks (as my 9-year-old would say).

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Here’s the back side, where the tiny staples (a real bear to get out) were used on 2+ carpeting forays.

Thanks for taking a look at some of the highlights of the week.  So much is happening, and we have unofficially set a move-in date of March 8.  Yowza!  It’s going to be busy!

Lighting Decisions and Ikea Trip #3

I know it’s been about a week since you have heard from me, so I hope I haven’t lost your interest in following my renovation project!  You haven’t missed much, as there was a delay (three days) in getting the city inspectors into the house to sign off on the preliminary work of the plumbers, electricians, and the heating/cooling guy.  So it has been a quiet week.  With the inspections complete, the exposed walls were insulated, and prepped for the sheetrock.  That’s what was happening when I popped in this afternoon.

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I wonder how many times I will take a pic of this wall during the renovation.  It must be 25 times already…

Mark, the head electrician on the project, was back for a few more adjustments.  Decided to lose a couple of lighting cans (some that were just wired last week) in the new space and a few more old ones in the entry and under the loft in the living room.  I thought a low profile ceiling light would be a much better look for the entry.  The placement of the cans and other ceiling fixtures has been a bit tricky.   John (architect) drew up a lighting plan, and there were a few things obstructing the exact spots specified, so there was some fudging of the plan, and I got talked into adding more cans by Mark and Jay (builder).  Over the weekend I came to the conclusion that I didn’t like the extras.  The ceiling was getting cluttered, some cans were too close to others of another zone, and I didn’t like the “close, but not quite” alignment of the cans and my future pendants.  I know Mark and Jay are skeptical, thinking I will want more light, but John is not concerned.   I think I will be happy with a cleaner looking ceiling, and my white cabinets, counters, and walls will bounce the light around adequately.  We will see (maybe not very well) who had the better advice when the kitchen is complete!

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Mark removing one of 2 existing canned lights from the entry. John has suggested an awesome fixture for this space!

Ikea Cabinet Update!

I thought I was going to be purchasing my cabinets on my last (2nd) visit to Ikea two weeks ago.  No, ikea explained, better to purchase when you are two weeks out from the install date.  So, John and I spent some time going over the plan, making a few adjustments, and left.  Yesterday, I was back.  We are roughly two weeks from our target install date, and I was ready and excited to make the purchase.  I approached a nice Ikea employee in the kitchen planning department, and we went over the entire project together.  John had done a great job drawing the kitchen cabinet design using the ikea software, so there wasn’t much to change.  Although, it was comforting to have it all double checked!

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Ikea’s kitchen planning department. I know it too well!

More questions were asked as to a timeline, and I said “Two weeks from tomorrow, please.”   Then it got complicated.  “If you purchase today, we have to deliver everything within one week.  Can we put a gazillion boxes to one side of the kitchen?”  (No…next week the new wood floor is being installed throughout.)  “Do you have a garage?”  (It’s already full of stuff.)  ” A basement?”  (It is being worked on.)  “Hmmmm.  We could try to schedule it for further out, but then your cabinets will come from our distribution center in New Jersey.”  (?)  “Or, you can just come back in a week or so, when you are within a week of your install date.”  (Can do!)

From what I understood (it’s still just a bit fuzzy), I just need to bring my cabinet “shopping list” back, and we will be ready to rock.  Set the date for delivery, which could be as soon as the next day, and pay.  Done!

We are saving our builder Jay (who normally builds custom kitchens) the headache of assembling the cabinets and installing them, by having ikea arrange that work for us.  This was Jay’s idea.  Our kitchen will arrive in 246 packages, and unless you do it often, putting ikea stuff together can be more than challenging!  The assembly/install portion is done by a local independent contractor who does ikea kitchens exclusively, so I think it is definitely the way to go.  Now, if scheduling that work has as many restrictions and is as confusing as the cabinet purchase, it may be a few days before I know what’s up.