19 May 2011

The Long Awaited (Mostly) Finished Product!

Yes, it has been over about two and half years since we last updated the blog, and I do apologize to all of you who have requested that we post the final pictures. In our defense, we have been busy during this time. I both started and finished grad school, graduating last June with a Master's degree from UCLA in the Urban Planning program. Then, after graduating, I decided that the time was right to open my own architecture firm. It's called Inchoate and you can be sure I'll be telling you more about it in the future. And, happily, we've also added a new member to our little family - our pup, Pantoufle!!

Now, here's the good stuff. Below are photos of us finishing the kitchen cabinets, pouring a concrete floor and installing a toilet in the bathroom, putting in the wood floor and painting the front door. Then, there are a few shots from our housewarming party and from bringing home Pantoufle. Here you go:

These are the upper cabinets going into our kitchen. We designed them to be free-standing boxes, that are independent of the others around them. Leif and Jason built these boxes out of 3/4" thick bamboo plywood with sliding plexiglass covers.

The two lower boxes have a space left in the back to allow for undercabinet lighting. These are the slim-line fluorescent tube lights that hide behind the lower boxes.

Here are the boxes, almost completely in place.....

Next, we tackled the bathroom floor. It was a thick-set tile that looked dingy and was cracked in many places, yet to completely take it out was more than we wanted to take on at that moment. Instead, we decided to cover it over with a thin set concrete. Above is a photos of the bathroom tile floor being prepped to receive the concrete. The edges are sealed with caulk and tape and coating has been painted on to help with the binding process.

Leif and Jason are mixing up the concrete. This is a self-leveling, thin-set version that you only have about 3-4 minutes to mix and again that long to get put in place, so you have to work really quickly!

Leif and Jason poured the mix in while I (as Spider Woman here) helped level it and get it in all the corners.

But this doesn't look good, does it?!

This was a disappointing moment. We had worked it for too long and the result was bumpy and blotchy. You can see in this photo that Leif was bummed and that Jason is trying to help him feel better. It doesn't help that this was done late at night.... Luckily, the concrete sets so thin that we had enough room in the bathroom to take another shot at it.....

And, voila! The second pour turned out much better!!

Next, we tackled our new toilet. It's a dual-flush, Water Sense certified model from Toto, so it will use a lot less water than a standard 1.6 gpf model. (At the time we installed this, they were actually pretty hard to find. I had to go to a specialty plumbing supply store. It's so nice to see that 2.5 years later, they are common place and you can get similar products at the big stores like Lowe's.)

Here's me trying to figure out how to get the new hardware to work with the old drain.

This is the new toilet base in place. It required some pretty exact placement, which was tricky for us to put into our new concrete floor.

And here is the final product. Doesn't it look pretty!

Moving out of the bathroom now, it was finally time to install our wood flooring. So that we could do it ourselves quickly, we decided to go with an engineered product that was floated over our subfloor. This meant that there was no nailing required!

The first step was to lay out a soft pad over the subfloor. The pad allows some give to the final floor installation and helps it to float as it is designed to. It also keeps the floor squeaks down.

Here is the floor going down. It is a 'click-together' system that fits together like puzzle pieces. It is spaced a little off of each wall and is not nailed down at all. In this way, each floor piece is only connected to the ones around it and the whole floor membrane floats in the room as a large single sheet.

Here is a close up of how each piece clicks into the one next to it.

The floor was a group effort, with Ben, Leif, Jason and I all pitching in.

Here's the whole living room done, with the kitchen in the background waiting. For a continuous look, we decided to use the same flooring throughout the public areas of the house.

Here's the last bit of the wood floor going into the kitchen. It was a puzzle at the end to figure out which pieces to use where so that the joints between the pieces were appropriately staggered.

Here's our lunch break with our work crew - a picnic in the front yard!
Gratuitous cute baby photo!
(Every blog needs at least one, right?)

After our floor was in, we were ready for baseboards. I think that Bernard and Lance did the majority of this for us - thanks guys!

We chose a bright, Carnival Red for the front door color.

Here's Jason getting all the details just right!

Oooo, shiny!

My mom came in to town to help with the finishing touches too. Here she is cleaning all our windows for us - thanks Mom!

Sometimes I don't even want to guess what's in a photo.... Anyone want to hazard a guess as to what Jason is doing here? :)

And here is the end of the last 'official' work day on the house. Great job, guys!


Now, it's time for a housewarming party! Only 3 years after we bought the house - that's not too late, is it?

Welcome friends!

Here's the view from the back door.

Another gratuitous cute kid picture - I think Tristan was planting watermelon seeds for us.

As usual, everyone likes to gather in the kitchen. Thankfully, ours seems well-suited for it.

A few months after finishing construction, Leif and I were finally able to add to our family. We adopted a puppy and named her Pantoufle (pronounced Pon-toof). She was the feistiest one of the litter, but has turned out to be a very sweet girl who loves all people.

Here we are on the ride home.

And with her first toy in our backyard for the first time.

Here's proof that Pantoufle took to Jason right from the very beginning!

And now for one final house project. We wanted to put up a bookshelf in our entry way.

We used a system called E-Z shelving that really did live up to it's name.

Leif did this one mostly on his own, though you can see that our curious girl is always willing to help with a project too.

He first attached rails to the wall, right over studs. Then, he put brackets on the rails and spanned the shelves between them.

The final product looks good!

Finally, this is what it's all about - a good place to live and share with family and friends. Leif and I would like to thank everybody who helped us so much over the years to get this project done. We couldn't have done it without you, and you know who you can call when you need a hand too. We owe you a lot more than one.....


29 August 2008

A Real, Working Kitchen?! ....almost....

First things first - we really did finish the deck! Take a look:

Next, we are getting details finished all over the place. It is really exciting to parts looking done. Here's our bedroom closet:

We bought a freestanding, Ikea system closet and installed it in a nook in the bedroom instead of installing a 'real' closet with doors and such. It was easier for us to install, and we think it's a good look as neither of us are big on sliding, closet doors.

This one is a full 8' tall. It's huge!

So, now to the good stuff! When we last left off with the kitchen, we had assembled our Ikea boxes and put them all in place and level. The countertop had been templated, but not yet installed. This starts at about two weeks ago:

Here are the supports we installed for the overhanging portion of the kitchen counter. It was not easy to find a guide on the right way to do this, so we just used the slimmest brackets we could find and plan on covering them up later so you don't see them.

Here's that same area from the top. Here the countertop installers have laid out the frame that will support the counter over the top of our cabinet boxes.

After hemming and hawing about what do pick for the countertop and if we could somehow do the work ourselves, we decided the best way would be to hire it out. We picked a solid white Corian. That hole above is for the kitchen sink.

And here it is! They installed it in two pieces, but they seal the joint in such a way that you would never know that by looking at it. The joint completely disappears.

Here's the view from the living room.

Next, comes the cutting out the cabinet doors. We were lucky enough to have both Ben over to help for this portion and to have Dan's table saw still on site. It made the job so much faster and easier (and more exact!).

We're using the same material for the doors that we used for our bathroom cabinets. It's 3/4" vertical-grained, carmelized bamboo plywood that comes in big, heavy, 4' x 8' sheets.

Cutting these doors takes teamwork!

Next, came a lot of sanding and finishing. They nearly covered the whole deck!

Leif finds the shady spot. Be sure to keep straight which container you are sticking your brush into and which one you are drinking out of there!

This was the trickiest piece. It's the frame behind the wall oven and built-in microwave. We were so afraid of breaking it!

Here are all of the boards drying in our living room. We finished them with a wax product called Osmo Polyx-Oil that is solvent-free and made from plant oils and waxes. It's very low-odor too so it's okay to use inside.

Here's that tricky frame piece in place, just waiting for the appliances.

With the countertop in, the next step was to ask our electrician, Mark Barber, and our plumber, Saul Archilla, to come back and finish up their work. You can see in the photo of the front of the house above that the exterior light has been installed by the front door. (We also painted the fascia boards.)

Here's the sink in place. We got the sink and the garbage disposal at Lowe's and the faucet from Ikea. The water filter is Aquasana. The sink, dishwasher and microwave oven are all fully operational. We are still waiting for upgraded electrical service to turn the wall oven on. The strip lights on the walls will be covered by our cabinet boxes (the undercabinet lighting).

The cooktop is by KitchenAid, as is all of the appliances. That big box below it is our down draft vent. It's the kind that pops up behind the cooktop when you turn it on. As you can see the yellow hose sitting in the cabinet there, the gas has not been connected to the cooktop yet.

Now comes the really tricky part. We needed to drill the cabinet doors for the hinges. This is pretty exact work and it's very easy to make mistakes on it, so we were pretty nervous about cutting into our nice, finished doors. The especially hard part for us was that we had all of these hinges that came with our Ikea boxes that we wanted to use for the doors, but because the official Ikea doors come with pre-drilled holes, Ikea does not provide you with a drilling template. We had to make one ourselves! (Yikes!) Above, Leif is drilling the first door panel while Jason 'supervises'. You can see our little tester piece on the ground before them.

And here's the first one in place. Not too shabby!

It's the end of another long day. Over the fridge behind me, you can see the first two cabinet doors in place.

Monday evening and we installed the rest of the wall of cabinet fronts. We still need to install most of the pulls and to align the doors by adjusting the hinges (the most annoying part of the job!). You can also see here how the microwave/oven turned out. The space underneath them will be a drawer soon, but we need to go back to Ikea to get the right sized hardware.

This is our pull-out pantry. I think it's pretty nifty!

We laid out the next set to be installed on the floor of the living room to make sure we got them in the right order. They were all cut out from the same piece of plywood to make sure that the grain would align from door to door. The blue tape marks the top, hinge-side of each one.

And here they are in place - almost....

Leif's drilling some more placement holes.

Here's the final side installed around the dishwasher.

Next time, I'll go into a few more details about how the cabinets were installed and note some other finishes, but mostly the news should be about installing the wood floor!