Upstairs, downstairs

As part of our kitchen remodel, we’re also converting part of the basement into a wine cellar, and making it look a little more “finished” by adding drywall, flooring, paint, etc.  Out with the circa 1970’s wood paneling, and in with a more polished appearance.  The ideal hope is that we can turn my husband’s “man-cave” into a more distinguished, and less frat-boy look.   This will be the budget part of our remodel, because after all is said and done, the basement is really just a room beneath the house, so spending a suitcase full of dough on something that will always be “just a basement” doesn’t seem to be  well-advised.  But after owning the home for 9 years I have finally failed at keeping my hands off what was supposed to be Carl’s man-cave, dude-dwelling, rumpus room, male sanctuary – a room that is his to decorate, a home for his own TV, video games, Sony Wii drum-set, and his much-admired high school jacket.  So many times I wanted to gussy-up the place, and so often I was told “hands off”.  But now, as we found ourselves embarking on the journey to re-do the kitchen, it seemed the perfect opportunity to finally clean up the space a little.  So the “hand’s off” turned into “let’s not spend a lot of money”, and that’s where we are today.

A basement too scary for our dog.

A basement too scary for our dog.

The man-cave before remodel

The man-cave before remodel

The steep stairs to the basement.
The steep stairs to the basement.
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Those horrible walls of plastic

To keep the rest of the house (relatively) free from all the construction dust, the team put up walls of plastic.  A small zipper allowed access when necessary, but as the plastic walls were only held up by painters tape, frequent zipping and unzipping would result in the wall falling down so it was frankly just easier to avoid the walls altogether.  The dogs seemed especially annoyed by these new additions to the house, as they could hear people on the other side but the opacity prevented them from thoroughly checking out the intrigue of what was happening on the other side.  The first few days of construction we let them sneak a peak, but as the job got messier it was best to keep them on “the clean side”.

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Sneaking a peak at construction.

Pictures from the past

Sometimes its nice to get a nod from the past.  As our contractors were tearing apart the walls of our kitchen they came across a gift from the previous owners.  The previous owners of our home had remodeled the kitchen in 2002, and had taken Polaroids of their own kitchen remodel and stashed them in the wall for the next time someone decided to tear apart the kitchen.  So this small little bundle of 9 photos which showed pictures of open walls, insulation and electrical wiring became our glimpse into the long-ago progress the past owners had made on their own kitchen project.  Should we do the same, and provide a gift to the next owners who decide to remodel?  But Polaroids are so last-decade.  Perhaps we should leave a memory card?  A USB stick?  Or a URL to this blog? Just a little ‘wink and a nod’ to give the brave owners a a smile as they embark on their own journey.

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These photos from the previous remodel were found within the walls of our kitchen.

A day of more demolition

Today was a full day of demolition.  The construction guys arrived promptly at 8am.   After being greeted ferociously by our little dog, Gracie and enthusiastically by our big dog, Monty, and everyone’s butts were appropriately sniffed and greetings had everywhere, the guys got to work on pulling apart more of our home.  Our lead contractor left to go to the city office to pick up the permits and said he would be right back.  The rest of the guys got started putting down paper to protect the floors, and making walls out of plastic in an attempt to stop the dust from infiltrating the rest of the house.  It felt as if we were being quarantined for some infectious plague – all that was missing was the yellow “do not enter” tape.  The guys then started with the symphony of the day – the gently echoing orchestra of men cracking and beating the tile in the existing laundry room, which will now be part of our kitchen.  ‘BANG, BANG, BANG, POP, CRACK, BANG’ and so it begins.  The latter half of the day was spent working on the basement – tearing the circa 1970’s wood paneling off the wall (finally!) and tearing apart the existing closet and makeshift bar downstairs.  I tried to ignore the sound, but it resonated throughout the house.  How does anyone live through this full time?  The dogs seemed a little agitated by the noise, but the biggest problem were the plastic sheets that blocked their access to part of the house.  How annoying!  ImageImage

Day 1 – saying goodbye on demo-day.

Although the idea of having new modern cabinets is exciting, I have to admit it’s a little odd seeing my kitchen pulled apart and sitting in my driveway.  But it’s going to a good home – I found a nice contractor who is pulling out all the cabinets and appliances for free and he’s going to try to re-use what he can.  A good deal for both of us, I think, although judging from the loud and severe grinding and banging noises coming from the kitchen it sounds like it’s taking quite a bit of work to free my cabinets from the wall.  If you’ve never heard the sound of equipment attempting to slice through granite counter tops, it sounds like a dentist’s drill on steroids.Image

Here we go

OK, so we finally decided to do it – create a dream kitchen.  After talking about moving to another (larger) home with a larger kitchen and seeing what was happening in the real estate market (ooh – ugly), my husband and I decided that we were just going to stay in our current home and remodel.  “Why move into another home when we can build our own dream kitchen just the way we want it?”.  At least that’s what we figured.  “And while we’re at it, why don’t we convert the basement to a partial wine cellar and make our home more valuable when we are ready to sell?”  Yeah – that’s a good idea too.  Oh yeah and “if we expand the kitchen into the laundry room, we can re-locate the laundry area into the walk-in storage closet – we can build that out while we’re at it”.  And yes, the icing on the cake – we’ll continue to live in the house while all this is happening.  Ah….such fabulous ideas in the light of day.  The questions is, will we be able to survive the quoted 4 months of construction?  As time goes by, I’ll publish updates.  The good, the bad, and the stressed-out ugly.  Here we go….

Our old kitchen - functional but not a lot of counter space for cooking prep.

Our old kitchen – functional but not a lot of counter space for cooking prep.