Showing posts with label kitchen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kitchen. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The best of times and the worst of times

Last fall, back when I was having the house tested for mold, the guy pointed out that my toilet was rocking and he detected water under the floor in that area. The toilet was rocking when I moved into the house, so Bill and I replaced the wax ring, which was such a gross project that I never wrote about it here. The toilet was still rocking after replacing the wax ring, so I shimmed it with some coins, but that didn't fix it either.

So I bit the bullet and hired a plumber for the first time. I looked on Angie's List even though I don't find it useful. Everyone gets an A+ on Angie's List, no?

"He came and completed the work he said he would. A+!"

It's not great for finding the best of the best and I've felt pressured in the past to leave them a glowing review when their work was just average.

So I picked someone from the multitudes boasting A's all across the board and settled on Nichols Plumbing. He fixed the toilet, which required replacing the lead outflow pipe with an ABS pipe, installing a new flange, and adding a flange repair kit, which drove screws down into our tile.

Have you ever noticed that when someone is charging you by the half-hour they talk a LOT?

Anyway, our toilet no longer rocks. Then, as he stood in my kitchen with hands black from toilet gunk, he placed both hands on my white walls and leaned. So I get to bleach and touch up the paint there. Why do repair people do this?

Because he had forgotten to put me on his calendar he was two hours late to arrive, which meant he couldn't do the second part of the job, installing a line for our ice maker. Four years ago I paid the extra $100 to get a fridge with an ice maker, even though there wasn't a line installed to supply the water. I was so poor at the time that making that decision felt like Sophie's Choice. I could've run the line myself but it would probably take me all weekend. As long as I was hiring a plumber to come out, I thought it made sense to have him do it.

So the guy had to come back out two days later. He initially wanted to just punch a hole through my kitchen floor and run the line that way. I told him I wanted a wall recessed unit with a shut off valve. Buddy, I can inelegantly punch a hole in my own damn floor. I'm hiring a professional because I want this to look good.

Then he suggested installing the unit here, to the left of the fridge. So when you entered through our kitchen door (as most people do) it would be staring you in the face.

So I was like, "How about we install it BEHIND the refrigerator?" You know, where people can't see it?

Then I micromanaged him about how he was going to create the hole in my wall, since we have lathe and plaster. I encouraged him to use a Fein tool like Chris did when he made this perfect hole.

He got out two different stud sensors, made a bunch of pen marks on my wall, then told me he couldn't find my studs and it wouldn't be his fault if he had to open up the whole wall. So I pulled out my stud finder and figured out where they were. I told him, "Open the wall right here. If there's not a stud, it's my fault." And lo, there was a stud!

He did not do such a good job making a hole in my wall. In his defense, he's not a carpenter. Plumbers are notorious for doing whatever is easiest for them, even if it means driving holes through structural beams or creating safety or aesthetic issues. But I was still disappointed.

He got the line run and installed the recessed unit, then tried to hide the chunks taken out of the plaster with caulk.

I know, that's not in the skill set of a plumber but it still bothered me. As we were settling up the bill the pricing we'd agreed on two days prior changed from a flat fee to an hourly fee. He started rambling through the breakdown of the charges and I was like, "I don't care! Just tell me how much I owe you." Then he says, "So I need to know. Are you going to write me a negative review on Angie's List? Because you can see that I didn't charge you for when I had to run and buy that part."

This made me totally uncomfortable. It felt akin to your waitress dropping off your bill and asking, "So are you going to leave me a big or a small tip?" It's unprofessional.

I tried to avoid his question by asking a different question, then went back to filling out the check. He asked AGAIN, "So, are you going to write me a bad review on Angie's List?" and I said, "I don't know." I actually hate writing bad reviews. You never know if you got someone on an off day, or if you're being unreasonable with your requests. I wouldn't want to work for me--I'm super annoying. I wasn't planning on leaving a review at all until he started pressuring me.

I left a mediocre review explaining that everything works but nothing looks terribly good. I gave him a C on everything but punctuality and professionalism. I don't ever want to be the cause of someone losing their livelihood or their health insurance.

I submitted the review, started worrying that the plumber would come to my house with a gun, then discovered that our ice maker was not working, and then something went *pop* in my brain. Greg came home to take me to the airport, only to find me incredibly agitated about the whole situation. He told me he'd look at it this weekend, which was what I was hoping for.

Greg is as handy as the next guy (as long as that guy isn't Norm Abram) but he works long hours, sometimes 70 a week, which means while I play in the garden all weekend he's usually sitting in front of his computer. He doesn't enjoy home improvement or have the time for it. And yet!

He fixed it.

I got a text while at my niece's party from Greg with a picture of our ice bucket. I nearly wept. Apparently the electrical connection had come loose in the back, next to where the water line goes in.

Very long story short: plumbers stress me out, Angie's List is worthless, my boyfriend is the best, and as soon as I recover from stroking out on Friday, we're making Manhattans. Because our freezer makes ice now. I'm pretty sure this is what Obama meant by "winning the future."

Manhattan drinkers: have you tried Bulleit's rye whiskey yet? It makes a dangerously delicious Manhattan. I'm obsessed with it.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Baseboard. Finally.

Hey! I can finally tell you about my kitchen baseboard. I was sponsored by Tinkernation to install it and write about it but I had to wait to post it here. It happened so long ago that I don't really remember all that happened except that it took a lot longer than we thought it would and I was really sore from crawling around on the floor. I'm fairly certain Greg and I got very testy with each other setting up the miter saw. What I'm saying is, I'm kinda phoning this one in.

So yeah, no baseboard in the kitchen. When we redid our closet we pulled out the trim and kept it so we could use it here.

Way back when they turned our dining room from two rooms into one, they built out this wall four inches and did this bullshit with the baseboard. We were like, "What the hell are we supposed to do with this bit of franken-trim?"

So we removed everything from this wall and used a longer piece of trim from the closet here. Then we cut up the franken-piece that was here and used it in the kitchen.

The long piece from the closet covered this wall perfectly.

This was a tricky corner because they totally botched the corner angle when they built out the wall. This corner had a 50-ish degree angle, which made all the cuts bizarre. And we'd never installed baseboard before, so we didn't know what we were doing.

But thank goodness for caulk and spackle and paint. Because we went from this . . .

To this . . .

I still need to install quarterround/toe board but baseboard took three years, what's another three for quarterround? Also, I'm still missing a toe kick under the dishwasher. I'm giving an over/under of five years for that one.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


I've been painting again.

Greg and I always joke that whenever he goes away on business he comes back to find that I've painted a room. I try and wait until he's gone so he doesn't have to deal with paint fumes. Also, I like to sing while I paint and Eternal Flame is still such a good song you guys, but Greg doesn't need to hear that.

Hang on to your hats, this is dramatic (we're looking at the spot above the door).



I KNOW. I know! It's crazy. The old color was the off-white from Metro Paint, which smells terrible and is made from recycled paint, so the colors were totally different from batch to batch. The new color is White Chocolate by Benjamin Moore, a color that looks exactly like white chocolate. Why would I bother? For starters, there was a spot over the door where I started to paint three years ago, then realized it needed to be patched, so I painted around it, then spackled it, then never painted. And I guess I got rid of the paint can at some point? So I was never going to find a match for that spot.

Then we installed baseboard in the kitchen, which I still can't show you pictures of because Tinkernation has neglected to publish my final post. I am contractually obligated to keep it under wraps until they do. But I had to patch the wall, which means the kitchen really needed to be repainted.

I bought a quart of White Chocolate and put up a swatch above the door, since Greg was away for the night. Then I was having so much fun I decided to paint a little further. Then I realized I was just painting the kitchen that night. I almost had enough paint to finish, too. Instead I had to pop over to Benjamin Moore the next day after work and hustle to get it finished before Greg got home.

It didn't work. He walked in and I was behind the stove with a roller and I weakly yelled, "Surprise!" and he was like, "I see the roller and the paint can but everything looks the same," and I had to explain the minute difference between the two colors.

All of the paint fumes with none of the dramatic impact! You're welcome, baby.

The good news is I really love the color and we have no visible patches. And it turns out I still know all the words to Eternal Flame and Walk Like an Egyptian.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

If you are a house blogger . . .

If you are a blogger, chances are you're either redoing your kitchen or you're pregnant. No, seriously, go look at your RSS reader. Pregnant or remodeling their kitchen or sometimes both.

I don't want babies so I'm satisfying the demands of the gods by doing the only kitchen remodel I can afford: painting the door. These pictures best show the gnarly state of our kitchen door. Dinged, dented, filthy, peeling, and just sad.

Upon taking apart the doorknob, I discovered that the previous owner had affixed it with caulk. Like the kind you use to seal your bathtub. That makes sense! I used a scraper to get the caulk off, leaving me with this mess.

I sanded everything down but I didn't have wood putty because of an unfortunate accident where my tube of wood putty hardened at the top and I squeezed too hard and the whole tube pooped out its contents from the bottom end, all over me. That's pretty much what having kids is like, right?

I wanted to get the door done before the boy returned from his work trip (Surprise! Paint fumes!) so I just painted it without filling the gauges. Enh, we'll live. I also hit up the knob with some Brasso.

It looks better, ya? Of course, now that the whole thing looks shiny and new I kind of feel like it would look better with a color. Maybe I could paint it yellow and Greg would feel better about the fact that I stole his yellow hallway from him.

Or maybe that's a bad idea.

Sherwin-Williams Daffodil

Sherwin-Williams Chartreuse

Sherwin-Williams Jonquil

The kitchen has always been tricky because the yellow counters are so cool and the floor tiles ended up being so much warmer and browner than I expected--I'm still trying to find ways to bridge the gap between the two. Regardless, I need to address the trim which still needs to be filled, sanded, and painted.

Now go double up on your birth control and get ready to pick out faucets. Or suggest paint colors for the door if you're feeling opinionated.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Painting! So much painting!

Sometimes I like painting swatches better than I like painting entire rooms or walls. But then sometimes I paint too many swatches in random places and our house starts to look like an outward manifestation of my mind and it. is. not. pretty. So I have to repaint. All of this is to say, I painted the hallway!

The original yellow, which wasn't so buttery looking IRL.

Because I am a terrible girlfriend, I removed the one paint color that Greg really likes in the house: the yellow in the hallway. (I know you're thinking it looks pretty but it was a high-sheen paint that made me feel queasy in artificial light.) When asked why I would want to repaint it, I told him, "It doesn't fit with our color story."

"I don't even know what that means."
"Just trust me."
"I like the yellow."
"I hate it. It's too shiny, too matchy with the bathroom floor."
"How about orange?"
"With a pink, yellow, and purple bathroom adjacent? No way. Any other requests?"
"Go to hell."

See? Terrible girlfriend! Instead I chose the same off-white from the kitchen. It's clean, it's neutral, and we can easily paint over it later when we find a color we both like. It we're being honest, it barely looks different but it makes me happy. It helps that I painted with an eggshell finish.

I saw a very pale blue (Benjamin Moore Whirlpool) on Making It Lovely that I wanted to use in the alcove between the kitchen and the hallway. I'm still on the fence about it--I think it makes the floor tiles look yellow. The upshot was that we realized how much more light reflected in this space with a lighter paint on the wall. It could have a little to do with the fact that we finally washed our kitchen windows, but I think the paint is helping. Before it was a french blue color that was actually very pretty.


In certain lights this color reads white but in the bright morning sunlight that streams through the kitchen window it's a very pale blue. I picked it up from Kaleidoscope Paint and I think I paid more for my first car than I did for this paint. It's low VOC but, shitballs, was it ever expensive. I'm not sure it was worth it. The trim paint I used was Benjamin Moore Aura (Snowfall White with a satin finish) and I would sell my first born for this stuff. It's dreamy to paint with. I want to bathe in it (not really. but sorta.). I'll definitely use it again.

And then we're going to put in some baseboard. Really.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Little things: the kitchen window

I painted the kitchen well over two years ago but I never finished painting around the window. I wanted to do a thin stripe of orange or some other funky color . . . but I couldn't find the right shade. So I ignored it and we endured this view for two years.

It didn't help that a former owner had sloppily glopped paint on the outside of the windows, obscuring the view inside.

I finally just said, "fuck it," painted the inside white and the outside trim with the color from the basement and called it good. Greg took it to the next level by scraping the outside paint from the windows and Windexing the glass.

Oh my god, it's like looking outdoors in HD, you guys. The amount of extra light that comes in to the kitchen now is staggering. We were both conflicted about cleaning the windows because we don't want birds flying into them, but then we realized that we have a bird feeder that has yet to be visited by a single bird and that we're probably okay. I have tried so hard to be the crazy lady with all the bird feeders but the birds aren't playing along.

Next up: replacing that awful light fixture (the installers did something VERY weird with the wiring or this would be done already), escutcheons on the faucet, and repainting the kitchen door. And maybe washing the rest of our windows.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hey! There's our house!

IFC has posted a sneak preview for season 2 of Portlandia and you can see our house!

Specifically, you can see them talking in our kitchen (including the window trim with a thousand different test paint strips:

In the front of our house:

My water heater straps are finally getting their 15 minutes!

Also: Greg's couch and our rotting front window!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Things I'm thinking about

Refinishing the kitchen cabinets. It's not on the list of 2011 resolutions but Rustoleum just came out with a new cabinet system that requires no stripping or sanding.

Maybe a nice unglazed linen finish?

But then I would want to regrout the countertops and finally put in baseboards, and paint the kitchen door . . . and you see where I'm going with this. But it's tempting. Anybody have any great ideas for what color I could do that would go with both the floor and the countertops?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I have a very exciting life.

I recently spent an evening detailing my dishwasher.  I know, my life is very glamorous.  I saw a how-to on Apartment Therapy about it and I immediately wanted to do it.

Cleaning sends me to my happy place; I'm weird like that.

There was a lot of scrubbing with a toothbrush and the running of a wash cycle with white vinegar, and then I pulled out the panels and decided to try the almond color instead of the white.

I also could have picked avocado green, brown, or mustard.  We had an avocado green fridge growing up that felt so old and uncool.  Now? I think the green looks so pretty.  I remember when we got a new almond colored refrigerator WITH AN ICE MAKER and how I felt like my family was finally catching up with my wealthier friends. Again, I'm weird.

I think it was my friend Sarah who suggested trying to find stainless steel inserts for the dishwasher so it would match the rest of the appliances.  I looked online but they were really expensive, at least on the manufacturers' sites.  But! eBay had panels for $30.  Why didn't I think of looking on eBay before?

I'm probably not fooling anyone into thinking this is a new dishwasher but it least it sort of matches now. And you guys, it's *so* clean!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

It's not janky, it's custom.

When I moved into my house there was this huge custom stainless steel plate around the floor register in the kitchen.  I didn't think long on it (I believe my whole thought on it was, "Weird.") because I had to tear out the kitchen floor shortly thereafter.  This is literally the only picture I could find of it.

When the new floor went in, they cut the hole for the vent to the exact same size as before.  Which in retrospect explains the stainless steel plate.  The hole is too big for the register.

For some reason, people like to stand on the register, which makes no sense to me at all.  People kept standing on the register and it started to bend and crack the Marmoleum beneath it.
Fun fact! Registers come in very standard sizes.  They are either 2 inches wide or four inches wide.  They are never 3.4 inches wide, which is what I needed.  I hunted and hunted and finally found a register at Reggio Registers with a two inch bottom and a 3.5 inch top.  The only problem is that it slid around, sometimes showing the hole beneath.  I thought if I could bulk up the base then the register wouldn't slide around and I wouldn't have a stroke every time someone decided to stand on it (but seriously, WHY).

One cheap paint stir stick from the Home Depot on each side, plus some 1/2" square dowels, stacked and nailed into place.

I'm sure this is how a real carpenter would do it. What else are those stir sticks for?

But it worked! Son of a bitch doesn't move!