As you may be aware, life at the residence known affectionately as the 1313 has been a work in progress. A free-standing brick bungalow on a 100 foot by 75 foot lot, six kilometres south of Parliament Hill, it has a lot of features that make it a winner. Hard wood floors. Garage. Three bedrooms, including a very spacious master bedroom. Fireplace. Grand backyard. But given these features, its affordability has always come with a price: significant upgrades and required renovations.
You see, the house, which has had a grand total of two previous owners since its original construction in the late 1950s, has not been renovated or modernized since the 1960s. To give you a few examples, there was but two three-prong socket in the entire house when it was purchased (in the kitchen, fortunately), and the walls are lined with newspaper as insulation. So the trade-off of having a sizeable home in my price range was always the understanding that work would be required that would not be necessary in a new house.
In the last five years, I have checked off a number of the jobs required, beyond the regular painting and such. Refurbishing the hardwood floors and installation of a new front door and screen door (2004). Installation of a new roof and new windows throughout the house, and insulating above garage and in closets (2005). Replacement of garage door and bathroom renovations (2006). A full replacement of all electricity (save for the kitchen and basement), and replacement of all pipes (2008).
After lo so many weeks, it is with great pleasure that I can finally unveil the latest project - the kitchen! Somewhere out there I am sure I’ve already describe in detail the long process that brought us to the completion of the kitchen and I’ll try and link to it. In the meantime, here is the history of the renovation.
Told to expect the workmen on Wednesday, September 16, Kirilaw and I worked to empty the kitchen of all the clutter that had build up over the last five years in an attempt to make the kitchen useful. This means a lot of added shelves and portable counterspace that are no longer evident in the pictures below, but which really added to the confusion of the space.
It also meant moving out all the appliances into the dining room and living room, where, in many cases, their replacements awaited. You see on the Wednesday, Kiriaw took possession of a collection of oven, microwave over-the-range, and dishwasher that were to go into the new kitchen. For those familiar with the house, we moved the hardwood bookcase, previously against the shared dining room/kitchen wall to adjacent the front door, nd to provide space for the refrigerator which we were keeping.
In any event, given a reprieve of an extra day when the work crew was required longer at the previous job, we mopped everything up and were left with what you can see in the pictures (from left to right: (1) view from the dining room of sink area, (2) view from dining room of stove area, (3) view from dining room of back of kitchen, (4) view from dining room of basement door, (5) view from dining room of the floor, and (6) view from dining room of the stove area):
Day One (Thursday, September 17)
We returned home on Thursday to find that the kitchen was completely gutted. No more burned counter top or sink. No more unwieldy pantry. No more linoleum tile floor. In fact, I later learned that the workmen lifted three layers of linoleum tile off the floor, leaving nothing by the 2 X 4s that were used back in the day for support beams.
Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of the destruction, so you’ll have to suffice with this picture of the three cats. Yes. Three cats. Confined to the master bedroom. Try and spot the Spenser.
Day Two (Friday, September 18)
In preparing for the kitchen renovation, we neglected to make arrangements with respect to the electrical work. Needless to say, it was a bit of a priority. Given that, with the notice, the electrician could only arrive on the Monday, and the fact that we were off to pick up the shiny new car, Friday was really a half day of labour. Basically a new sub floor was put in, upon which the tile would be applied. And at noon on Friday, with instructions to move the oven before Monday now that it had been disconnected, the kitchen looked like this:
Before I close out Day Two, I should mention one thing. The wallpaper is now officially gone. Yes, after five additional years of life, the wallpaper of the 1960s has gone away, only to be remembered in this little stitch of pattern:
Day Three (Monday, September 21)
Electricity day. Not a lot to see really. Just that the oven is now in the garage and the old wiring has been completely removed. But if you look really close, you see one of five new three-prong sockets, two of which are on each side of the kitchen. That’s a lot of plugs for our use.
Day Four (Tuesday, September 22)
Day four, or the day the cabinetry came to visit, is just that. As you can see, work began on actually assembling the kitchen. You can see the replacement pantry mostly among the assembled boxes. What’s missing of course are the floor mouldings and boards scattered throughout the living room, waiting to be put into place after the shelving and drawers are assembled.
Day Five (Wednesday, September 23)
Interesting, on what was suppose to be the last day of construction (more on that later), the kitchen is beginning to take shape. The new pantry has doors and there is new shelving and drawers on both sides of the kitchen, including a frame for the kitchen (to the right of picture three). You will also see where the dishwasher will go to the right of picture two.
Hardware and counters, as well as a function sink and appliances, as evidenced by Isis (picture three), are still to come.
Day Six (Thursday, September 24)
And on the sixth day there were counter tops. And a sink! And a dishwasher. Everything is coming up millhouse!
The sink doesn’t actually work yet. Oh yes, the double sink is nicely installed and it all looks really smashing but it won’t be until the following week until it actually allows us to do dishes anywhere other than in the bathroom.
Day Seven (September 25)
If you compare the pictures from day six and day seven, you’ll notice three things. First, there is a functioning microwave oven, which means that we can at least begin to heat something up at our own home. Second, there is hardware most everywhere. Third, there is no faucet where there had been one the day before. Turns out the faucet was defective and had to be replaced.
So we have some usable space, but I’m still cleaning dishes in the bathroom.
At the end of the day on Friday, I called the contractor to talk about completion times. You see, the original estimate had been for a week. Now, I didn’t honestly expect the job to be completed in a week, and given the electrical snafu, I figured it would take some more time. But even still we were not as far as I thought we should be. There was still no flooring or splash tiles for example, to say nothing of the issues with the sink and the absence from the kitchen of the stove still living in the living room.
So I called and said that I thought it was suppose to take a week. It is, came the response.
Wait for it…
“You don’t expect us to work weekends, do you?”
“No, of course not,” I say, wondering where this was going…
“So it will be done Monday. That’s a week.”
Now, I live on planet Earth. What has been described is not a week but seven days. A week is five business days plus a weekend. Given that work commenced mid-week, we were looking at eleven days at this point. It was frustrating, mostly because the construction took up more space than just the kitchen. With appliances, tiles and hardware in both the living room and the dining room, and the confinement of the cats during the day to the bedroom meaning sharing the bedroom with the litter box and food dishes, the state of disrepair of the house was getting to me. But never mind, we had been assured that the kitchen would be done on Monday. And I was looking forward to being able to eat more than restaurant.
Saturday, I nipped out to finalize a small splash tile change necessitated by price, because our original choice of accent tiles turned out to be $25 each, and scraped the basement stairs among other bits of housework. I also left a note outlining things that I’d noticed of concern and left it for Monday morning.
Day Eight (Monday, September 28)
Day eight. Or as I like to say Day The-kitchen-is-not-done-dammit. Yes, we have a working sink at last but the floor, to say nothing of the oven, is nowhere to be found.
I should add though that three of the four noted items were handled, including replacing two electrical outlets that ultimately didn’t work.
Day Nine (Tuesday, September 29)
I think I called this day to get another estimate on time. I think I got a vague answer at this point. Again, I’m not upset by the time lag but by the poor time estimates. And, like, no stove.
Anyway, today was the day the tiling went down which was terrific. The downside of course is that we can’t really walk on the tiling until it sets, which takes about a day (hence the tape barrier on the door). Which poses a bit of a problem of course, because the tiling meant the basement door (not shown) had to be removed from its hinges. Since the three cats are not allowed into the basement, we had to come up with creative barriers to prevent their escape.
But at least it allowed us to move the basement door, at this point leaning against our couch in the living room, out of the last of our living space.
Day Ten (September 30) and Day Eleven (October 1)
I’m glad I took so many pictures because I would not have been able to recall the progress without them. But either Day Ten or Day Eleven didn’t get photographed because there was not enough visible change to make it worthwhile. Whether it was plumbing work or what not, I don’t know what was done on each day, other than the grouting of the tiles.
The basement door, of course, is still hanging out in the living room necessitating a note to reattach it as soon as possible.
Day Twelve (Friday, October 2)
Friday was the day that I thought I was going to lynch someone before I realized just how much had been done.
I arrived home to find the stove in place first. Great, I think, two full days and that’s all they could muster. I based this on the visual cues, for which the only noticeable change was the addition of the stove. But on closer inspection I realized my error. The radiator port under the cabinetry in the right corner, to the left of the stove, was firmly in place (picture three). There were kick plates under all the cabinet (admittedly they might have been there on Day Eleven, but they were certainly here now) (picture one and two). There had been adjustments to the basement door (to correct the jamming against the tile floors) (picture four).
More notably, the last point on my Monday fix list, adjustments to blur the uneven gaps between the cabinets and the ceiling, had been made (pictures five and six). And there was some patching, along with floor moulding that had been installed all along the exposed walls.
So really, not bad. We were very very close now.
Day Thirteen (Monday, October 5)
Just when it looked like the home stretch, things fell away again. There was patchwork in behind the frame where the refrigerator was to go, so we faced another weekend with the refrigerator in the dining room. But, more frustrating was the splash tiles.
The previous weekend I had opted to go with a set of 3 X 3 glass accents, which were to go into the splash guard every ninth tile or so in a pattern. But the glass inserts were not sized properly so the contractor had spoken to me on the previous Friday about running a line of glass tile trim instead, to which I agreed. However, because of the change, there was insufficient glass tile to do the backsplash, which meant only the backsplash behind the sink was done when I got home on Monday.
Why the workmen didn’t do what they could on the other side is beyond me, but it continued to drag out the timing of the finished kitchen. Which meant the cats, who have been confined to the master bedroom each day of construction, would be confined a bit longer. Clearly (picture four) they have it rough.
Day Fourteen (Tuesday, October 6)
Tuesday was notable for the simple reason that I had to come home from work, too sick to stay there. I had spent the day at home on Monday, which meant for an uncomfortable sick day where I felt I had to be awake for the workmen who didn’t arrive until 4 p.m. On Tuesday, I stayed up too and found the same thing, and like the previous day, used their arrival as my cue to flee the scene of the crime.
Wednesday I just slept.
Anyway, both backsplashes are fully tiled this time. Grouting remains, but I’ve had a conversation assuring me all will be settled on Wednesday. There is some more patching work done too. In fact, patching was underway when I came home from work which was how I got my revised revised ETA.
Day Fifteen (Wednesday, October 7)
Day Fifteen, or the day it was (mostly) over.
Wednesday the last of the grouting was done. Previously in the day, feeling somewhat better or possibly more sick of the fridge living outside the kitchen than sick in physical health, I remove the doors of the refrigerator and moved it back into place, before reattaching the doors.
Overall, I really like the glass tile border effect and was very pleased to note that the backsplash tiles behind the stove went down quite a ways (picture six). And now, aided by Isis (picture seven) came the unenviable task of unpacking.
So where does that leave us? Well, the kitchen still requires the promised pull outs in the pantry to allow us to maximize the full space there. They are expected in the next week or so.
Meanwhile, painting of the walls falls to me. On Day Fifteen, I painted the wall beside the refrigerator. This week, I patched the wall beside the window. This evening, I put up the first coat of primer. We’re going to leave it like that until after Hallowe’en, when we’ll pick final colours, and patch, prime and paint the ceiling. Which we should have done before the construction work but what can you do. For the full view, check this out.
Who said having a house couldn’t be fun?