Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Evolution of the Kitchen - pt. 2

So, where was I now when work so rudely stuck its nose in?  Ah yes, the kitchen and how it came to be. Is coming to be.  We have the shape, the walls, the tile, which looks a bit scruffy in the pictures due to it being freshly grouted (more on the tiles later) and an idea of what we wanted.   If we were working with a contractor we’d have driven him nuts by this point, “Hey, can you move the wall over a bit?  Add some built ins, shelves there?  No there . . .” and so on.  

   We could finally start bringing in cabinets.  Truckload after truckload (fortunately it’s not that far away) and the shell was filling out.  

 That hole in the wall in front of the cabinet with the big hole is my spice rack.  Or will be.  Did I mention I cook?  Lots?  That big hole in the cabinet is where the oven goes.  I've never had a wall oven and we lucked out with this one.  We bought the oven from the Sears outlet store (In December, so it's been in our living room ever since) at 50% off because it was missing its box.  !!!!!   The oven will actually sit lower, the upper two drawers have been removed and the microwave will go above.  We found the microwave, which is a convection combo, discounted by 75%. 

The cook-top goes under the space for the exhaust fan, natch.  Gas, natch.  It arrived this week and I'm currently infatuated with the knobs.


Open layout, open shelving, open hole where the fridge goes.  (And how many job sites have an espresso machine?)  We bought the fridge and dishwasher during the Black Friday sale at Home Depot which saved us 50% on those too.  Fortunately we were able to put off delivery until March so we aren’t tripping over them in the apartment.  Instead we’re tripping over them at the house.  The shelves next to the fridge will hold mixing bowls, plates, nicer cookware, underneath will be a prep area. 

 The Habitat For Humanity Restore has been a great resource as well.  We picked up a new stainless double (60/40) sink for about 1/5 of what we would have paid retail.  We were originally thinking of going with black appliances but managed to get them all in stainless for less than what we would have paid for black .  All that money saving meant it was time for a splurge.   Behold, the faucet.  Not the priciest we found (OMG, people pay THAT MUCH for a faucet???) but yeah, it was a splurge.  Purty isn't it? 


The cabinets will be painted battleship gray,
or Seal Grey, and the process of taking off the doors, removing hardware and priming has begun.   Next comes sanding then painting.  

 For this we have a high tech work space . . .

. . . and sophisticated drying racks.  


 Today we took a trip out to Stone World to approve the granite for the counters.  Here is our slab. 

They volunteered to try to cut so that lines and streaks would be minimized, but we requested that they actually try to use them prominently.  I think it looks more like real stone and makes it more interesting.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Evolution of the Kitchen - pt. 1

For many people, if given the opportunity, the kitchen would be the one room that gets the most consideration when building a house.  But perusing what’s on offer in print and online there are many beautiful examples, but on closer inspection they tend to fall short on practicality.  Sure they look good, but how well do they function?  As someone who spends an awful lot of time using mine, I was aiming for both. 

 The first hurdle was trying to get the most use out of limited space.  The placement of the front door (we considered moving it) would create an awkward traffic flow no matter which side of the house we chose.  Having a counter with stools was also a possibility, leaving the front of the kitchen open, and a table that would be pushed against the wall when not in use. 

 This presented us with other design problems, having the kitchen be the first thing you see when walking in the door, the arrangement of the cabinets and appliances so that you weren’t staring at the side of the fridge or too close to the stove, the table getting in the way and various inconveniences.  We cut out stencils to help visualize different configurations and generally racked our brains (beat our heads against the wall) trying to make it work.

In a fit of inspiration (frustration), I realized I didn’t actually want a dining room.  Who even uses them?  Aside from dumping stuff that you’re too lazy to put where it belongs, and believe me, I live there.  How about a big honkin’ eat-in kitchen? Yes! With that problem solved we still wanted some kind of separation from the front door but just slapping in a wall would be rather clunky.  The back wall of the living room was already built at an angle to steal a bit of space for the room (my office) on the other side, but also to create a sight line that didn’t come to an abrupt halt.  The wall of the kitchen would reflect that, which was easier to see once the drywall went up and the tiles went down.

We toyed with different possible openings in the wall to make the kitchen less claustrophobic, but none of them seemed quite right, and having a corner jutting out into the living room was also not appealing.  We tackled that problem by using a disappearing corner, two pocket doors, which could be left open or closed.  I'd only ever seen them in showers or sliding glass doors opening up to patios, which made it an interesting design detail, along with the opening in the wall above.  

The wall that runs along the hallway also has a large opening directly across from the office, which has pocket doors as well, giving that whole section of the house a very fluid feel, moving seamlessly from one room to the next.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Apartment Therapy/The Sims

I thought I was the only geek doing this, but I guess I'm not alone.  I'd looked around for design software then realized I already had The Sims 3.   Why not build the house virtually as well?  For some aspects it does a pretty bang-up job.  The exterior, for example:

Interiors are a bit trickier.  Especially when you're doing a lot of custom work. 

There's no wall oven or cook-top in the selection of available appliances, so I went with a standard range instead.  And we have open shelves between the refrigerator and cabinets and smaller ones on both sides of the cabinets around the window, which are also not available.  You're also limited in the angles of the walls, so I had to use the closest approximation.  All in all it's still pretty handy for visualizing colors and layouts.  I think I'll skip creating virtual versions of us.  That's just weird.  Although . . . . .

All Dressed Up

Framed, roofed and all wrapped up.  If only . . . . The wrap is like thermal underwear for houses.  It's a layer that helps keep moisture and air from leaking in.  

 The porch and balcony go up.  The balcony will actually double as a sleeping porch on warm nights.  It gets a metal roof as well.  Nothing like the sound of rain on a metal roof to lull you to sleep.  You can also see here how the house overlaps the foundation 8 inches left and right – this was done because the foundation measured 24’ 4” wide and an even 26 feet is more efficient in terms of materials.

 And on a rainy day, pre-priming the porch rafters.  Pink.  Did I mention the house will be pink?

No, no, no, no, no!  I shouldn't even joke about that . . .  Now the fun part, for me, anyhow.  The siding is on and painted.  Looks a bit like a Shaker house, no?  But looks can be deceiving.  

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Hot Tin Roof

A bird's eye view (if it was nesting in the rafters) of the roof framing.  This was the most difficult part of building the house – especially manhandling the overhanging rafters at each end into place.  The pitch could have been shallower but this seemed the most fitting, looking at it from ground level.  It also allows the house to cool off better as the heat is directed up and out. 

Note the 2x4s hinged over the roof decking – used to walk on as the sheets were attached.  Metal roofing is incredibly slippery and the height of the roof made it that much more dangerous. 

The gap left at the top of the roof lets hot air escape from under the ridge cap.

Not only does a metal roof look really cool, but all the metal cost less than the cheapest shingles, was much less work for one person, and will last 30-40 years.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Rather than bore with too many details, and I’m trying to catch up here, skipping over a lot of stuff that’s, well . . . boring, and the pictures don’t really give much of an idea.  It’s difficult to gauge spaces without walls. It's starting to look more like a house, though.

The interior walls start to get framed.  Home office.

We call this Stonehenge, a support for beams in the ceiling, and that will have a built in bookshelf.  And a sign of the weirdness yet to come.  That's the kitchen on the other side.