Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Kitchen Renovation: The During

The official planning of our kitchen started in January of last year (2016). The contractor took measurements of everything, found out as much as they could about our existing electrical, plumbing, and structure, and then drew up a plan for us. I liked it, but it wasn't exactly what I wanted. We kept all of their ideas in place, aside from moving one section of cabinets and the refrigerator. This caused us to have to close up a window, which most people would probably think is insane, but I really wanted a triangular placement of the sink, stove, and refrigerator. Plus, the space is small and we already have 5 other windows in the room. Honestly, there wasn't room for much creativity in the overall plans because the space is relatively small to begin with, and we had a stairwell, chimney, and back door to work around.

Over the next couple of months we made selections. I selected the countertops, cabinets, and floors through our builder and their vendors. The hardware, light fixtures, appliances, plumbing fixtures, sink, back door, paint color, and backsplash were all me. I did a lot of internet research, took a lot of trips to visit various stores that sold the above, and watched a lot of HGTV. But mostly, I just picked what I liked. Since all of the selections were made over a long period of time, I was a little afraid they wouldn't all look good once together, but luckily for me they did. In our previous two homes I'd made some design choices that I look back on and seriously regret, but this time, we finally found our groove. Honorable mention to Will who selected and installed the pantry shelving, and who installed the open shelving I bought.

Demolition began in April, and our kitchen was finished in July, so the whole thing took about 3.5 months. It pretty much went down like this.

Demolition and clean up. Let me tell you, it was really fun having a napping toddler and dogs that are terrified of loud noises during all of this. #not. Well worth the stress though!

Leveling the floor (the eat in area was a step down from the rest of the kitchen).

Making the ceiling one height, drywalling the drop ceiling.

Fixing the structure below our back door (surprise cost - insert mad face emoji).

Framing, insulating, drywall.

Updating the electrical.

Flooring installed.

Cabinet installation.

Countertops, appliances, plumbing, hardware, and backsplash installed.


Throw in a few inspections and there you have it. I'll post one more kitchen update with more detail on the selections we made, and the after photos!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Kitchen Renovation: The Before

It's been about six months since our kitchen renovation was 100% complete. We still don't have blinds, so I guess 99% complete. Why we haven't gotten around to getting window treatments after all the other work we put into that room, I don't know. Just one of those things I guess? Anyway, we've had plenty of time to enjoy it and I can honestly say there are only two things I *might* change about what we had done. And even those are fairly minor. It'll take me a bit to document the entire process, so I thought I'd start with the before.

A little background. We started our home search knowing we wanted to find a place we could redo the kitchen. I would have been fine if we'd stumbled upon a house that already had a great kitchen, but deep down, I really wanted to create our own from scratch. When we decided to make an offer on our new house, we knew the kitchen was a dump, but that was OK, because we wanted to fix it up anyway.

We didn't account for just how much of a dump it actually was, or for the fact that we'd be living in it for several months before the work actually got started. #contractordelays This was a terrible experience, but on the plus side, we had time to live in the "before" kitchen long enough to really know what we wanted the "after" kitchen to look like. It also made us appreciate the new kitchen A LOT more when it was completed. Which by the way, about 3.5 months from start to finish, 7 months after we moved in. So we spent 3.5 months with a dilapidated kitchen, and 3.5 months with no kitchen at all.

Here are a few pictures from the home listing when bought our house. To some it may not look that bad, but trust me... it was bad. The cabinets were ancient, and in terrible condition. The floor was made out of what I can only describe as vinyl tile. The appliances were falling apart. Literally. The refrigerator had tape on the inside holding the shelves up, and the oven handle broke off the second time I tried to bake something. Oh, and every single surface was pretty much ancient and/or filthy.

No counter space next to the stove, or between the stove or the refrigerator. Weird microwave box area above the stove. Useless soffits.

This weird nook of wasted space drove me crazy. No cabinets, no furniture, what is the point? And don't get me started on that peninsula.

Former screened in porch turned interior kitchen space. Clearly no one was actually eating in there though, so again, wasted space. Also, this "room" was a step down from the rest of the kitchen. AKA a death trap for toddlers and clumsy people like me. This area was also very poorly insulated and completely FREEZING cold in the winter. And two more words: drop ceiling. Bleh.

I'd been saving images for months and months of inspiration for our new kitchen. This pinterest board was my best friend. Here are a couple of the pictures I went back to most when trying to envision how we'd turn the above into my dream kitchen.

I've lived in brand new homes, homes that were over 100 years old, and everything in-between. There is good and bad on both ends. One of the "bad" things about having an older home is that you really don't know who did what when, whether or not they did it right, and what the heck you're going to find behind the walls or under the floors when you go to make a change.

While we found plenty of surprises, it could have been worse. Next I hope to post pictures of our during, the drawing our contractor worked up for the new kitchen, the drawing after I made changes, and more about our process in general.

Friday, February 24, 2017

surviving a major renovation... with a toddler... while pregnant

Yes, you read that right. It was never our intent to have our kitchen renovation, basement renovation, and the first several months of my pregnancy overlap. Unfortunately our kitchen got started late, our basement got started early (and took much longer than expected), and before you knew it we were expecting baby number two. Living through a renovation when you're at home all day with a toddler and two dogs is tough, so I wanted to share a few things that helped us get by.

This was part of the basement waterproofing process. One of MANY truckloads full of yuck that got removed from the house.

1. Get your pets out of the house.

Whether this be for a few minutes or a few days, do what you can. Our dogs were surprisingly well behaved considering we had men in and out of the house several times a day, and our yard was monopolized by construction equipment rendering it unusable for doggy bathroom breaks or play time. I made it a point to strap Norah into the Ergo and walk them, even if it was just for a few minutes, as many times a day as I could. When my belly got too big to wear Norah, we'd load up and hit the dog park for as long as I could wrangle everyone. It was a juggling act, but it was necessary. We also bought a daycare package so they could spend entire days away from the chaos. I'd definitely budget daycare and/or occasional boarding into your renovation budget if you have active animals. Or find a friend or family member that will take them off your hands. We completely under-estimated the amount of coming and going contractors would be doing, and how much they'd need our back yard to work in.

2. Plan to eat out. A lot.

I was incredibly niave going into our kitchen reno and thought we'd still be able to eat dinners at home. Breakfast and lunch was doable, but dinner was almost impossible. While we still had some appliance use, with no counter space, a tiny refrigerator, and several stints without power, our dinner time meal options were really limited. Not to mention, after dealing with the crazy all day, I just didn't feel like doing all the juggling that it took to prepare a decent meal. I wish I'd done more research and planning to get healthy, affordable dinners out planned for my family. We relied on fast food one too many times simply because my lofty goals of planning out weeks and weeks of crock pot meals weren't met.

3. Accept help.

We were lucky enough to have several friends and family invite us over for meals, or just to get out of the house. This is something I said no to a lot just because I hate to be a burden, but in retrospect, that was a mistake. People  offer because they want to help, and it really does make a difference.

4. Have a Plan B.

I had no clue how much construction on our home would interrupt our routine. Turns out, power tools are LOUD and power and/or water often needs to be shut off during major renovations. This was of course ALWAYS during nap time, which was my worst nightmare. Luckily, we had a crib set up at Will's parents. It wasn't ideal to drive 20 min away just to take a nap, but I was happy we had the option.

5. Have the right permits.

This is probably obvious/self explanatory. I won't elaborate, but trust me. When the inspector comes wrapping at your door one morning asking to look around and threatens to shut down your whole operation, you'll wish you were more prepared.

Those are probably my four biggest nuggets of advice that no one gave me before we started on our reno journey. Hoping to share before and after pics soon!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

End to the Radio Silence

It's been almost exactly one year since I've blogged. There have been several times over the past twelve months that I've considered resurrecting this bad boy. I wanted to track our move and home renovation. I wanted to track my second pregnancy. I wanted to track that pregnancy even more when it became "high risk". I wanted to write about how it felt to find out or second child was a boy, and how we picked his name, and tell his birth story. I've wanted to write about how we've managed to do a lot of the above with me as a one woman show, as Will's job kept him on the road many, many nights. But as each day passed, any time I got a few free minutes, I was too tired either mentally or physically to share any of the above, or all the things that have happened in-between. I hope to eventually (soon) share about everything I previously mentioned, but today, I am just going to share about the right now.

Right now, it is 2:00pm. I have an eight week old baby boy sleeping on my chest, and I'm taking my first minute to myself to recoup since 7:00am. The big girl is upstairs (hopefully) napping, and the dogs are somewhere probably getting their muddy paw prints all over my floors. The weather in Cincinnati has been incredibly spring like, so along with the warm temperatures, that means rain.

I feel now that we're about two months into this "family of four" thing, I can speak about it with a bit of certainty. The only question I've been asked more in the last two months more than "How is the baby?" is "How are things with two?". HA. That is hard to answer. It depends what moment you're talking about. It's insane. It's a circus. It's hard, daunting, overwhelming, suffocating, and flat out HARD. But it's also so fulfilling. It is a joy like you can never imagine. It's completing, beautiful, humbling, hilarious, and the biggest learning experience I've ever been through.

So, so many tears have been shed. I've been peed on dozens of times. Three today actually. I've had to ignore one of my children's cries to attend to the other's needs more times than I'm comfortable with. I've broken down to my husband about my kids, to my friends about my husband and my kids, and to my kids about how I wish I was more like Daniel Tiger's mom. I've felt like an insane person. I've felt like the luckiest person alive. My marriage has changed (for the better). A lot has happened in the last several weeks, and I hope one day I can articulate on this blog what a crazy time in our lives this has been. But for now, just know that two kids is crazy, and hopefully, this blog is back in a action!
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