Thursday, May 28, 2015

Welp, there's no turning back now.

I think I may have invented a new level of tired this weekend.

Between growing Deuce in my belly (sidenote: Deuce is what we are calling the second baby we found out I was having about 2 months ago, not some tasteless poop joke.  Well, it's not totally a poop joke.) ...abiding by the very needy schedule of a toddler who requires snacks and naps and active play time, and oh right...demolishing our entire kitchen...I have entered a realm of exhaustion that rivals the best of them.

And I didn't even do the heaviest of the labor.  My extremely talented and hard working husband toiled like a beast for 3.5 days to help us stick to our very detailed and ambitious schedule.

General Troutman runs a tight ship.

Let me go ahead and give you my first crucial piece of advice if you are thinking of attempting a major home renovation like a kitchen: many hands make light work.  We would probably never have done this had we not had the AMAZING support network of friends and family making the process easier.  From helping watch Carter, to cooking us meals, to ripping out flooring, to making dump runs...I seriously want to cry when I think of how well we are cared for.  It could be the pregnancy hormones but I really think this is honest emotion I'm feeling here.  So that being said, you'll see a lot of names littered below and every. last. one of them was wildly helpful.  And attractive.  And smelled good.

We last left you with the wood paneling in the dining room being ripped out and a larger opening being made.   Tip o' the iceberg, amigos.

Let's start off with a couple of good before shots so you can experience this space in all it's 1962 glory.

Jello cups on the counter mean this was not too long after the stomach bug of 2015 hit our house.

Carpet under in the dining room with a toddler and another baby on the way? Genius!

Friday Afternoon

My father in law aka the eternal teenager, came over and helped Nick disconnect all the appliances. We moved the fridge into the den (a classy look I'm thinking of making permanent), ripped out the oven, the hood, the cooktop and the dishwasher.

There's no question where Nick gets his work ethic.

They weren't going to be reused so I put those suckers up on Craigslist for free and they were hauled off two hours later.  Second tip of the day: make CL work for you.  People will seriously take anything, especially if it's listed for free.  We had folks come and dig up some bushes in our yard and haul them off last fall.  It's amazing.  Utilize it and save yourself a trip to the dump or the Salvation Army or whatever.

Our friend Coach (who Carter adorably calls "Choach") came by and he and I packed up all the cabinets and moved the boxes into the living room.  

Baby + Box + Crayons=Distraction for a good 15 minutes.

Coach's hot babe of a wife cooked us dinner that night and we felt pretty good heading into the big day...


Our amazing crew showed up and after we stuffed our faces with bagels, we got to work.


The ripping out of cabinets, counter and soffit actually went fairly quickly.  We found some homework circa 1975, a curling iron that you heat up on the stove, a 1971 credit card bill from Sears Roebuck (hope that got paid) and plenty of nasty.  The wrecking crew consisted of my big bro Tony, Kenneth "Big Mac but had a Big Respiratory Infection this weekend" Almond, Nick, Coach, Ralph and my 14 year old nephew. Somehow he got old enough to do this type of work and it makes me feel ancient.

Team 2, made up of myself, Crissy "Crusher" Carmichael, Meliss, Kathryn, Kathy and my niece Ella built all the new cabinets that hadn't been finished by Nick and I over the past couple weeks.

"Why didn't anyone tell me my shorts were so ill-fitting???"

Oh by the way - the entire weekend was sunny and in the mid-70s. PERFECT WEATHER YALL.

So once all the cabs and counters were gone, the visual impact got everyone's blood pumping.  Until you looked down.

Excuse my French but THESE. DAMN. FLOORS.

There was only one owner of the house prior to us and so it seems as though every time they got tired of a flooring, they just layered a new one on top.  Mind you, there was carpet over areas of this too.  So we are talking FOUR floors and a second layer of subfloor here that needed to be dealt with.  And that bottom layer...see it?  That's good ol' 9"x9" asbestos tile.  When we found this a few weeks ago when we were making the wider opening, we had a colleague come out and consult with us on the best way to get it up, safely.  

So the strategy was going to be to rip up both layers of linoleum and then take a circular saw to the floor (wetting the floor with a sprayer to eliminate dust) and pry up entire sections of subfloor without having to scrape up the tile and the mastic (which also more than likely had asbestos in it).  

So we (I say we, but Preggo McPreggerson and Carter stayed outside this entire time for extra precaution) taped off the floor in a grid and gave it a shot.

FAIL.  It took Nick and Coach nearly an hour to try to pry up a 3' x 3' section of subfloor and it burned out the motor on the circular saw.  There were 4" nails everywhere so things were smoking and sparking more than New York's hottest club.

Truth time: we felt super defeated Saturday night.  We were worried about how to get it up, if we couldn't get it up, how we would deal with the level change at the wood, and the safety of our family if we kept the asbestos in the house.  Neither of us slept well that night.


One of my proudest takeaways from the entire weekend was that Nick and I did not bicker or even give the hint of a "tone" to one another during the entire ordeal.  I worried that if it would happen, it would be Sunday morning.  The stress of the unknown from Saturday late afternoon had us wondering if we had bitten off way more than we could chew.  So as we sat in the backyard early that morning, we decided to pray about it.  And our prayer was simple..."God help us figure this out and keep us all safe."  (I won't get into the theology of praying for seemingly trivial things like this, but rest assured, He gets all our praise for what happened next.)

Our fearless team of Coach, Melissa, Tony and Logan joined us again and we decided that if we scrape up all the tile and expose the seams of the subfloor, that would help us figure out where the weak points were and between the brute force of three dudes with crow bars, we might be able to get that thing out of there.  So that's what we tried...

Three dudes.

Worked like a charm!  It sounded like gun shots as the hundreds of nails were ripped from their homes but the entire floor ended up coming in 30 minutes.


Original subfloor, asbestos free, in fantastic condition.

You guys, we were all high fiving and cheering.  It was so exciting.  And so simple.  I still smile when I think about how easy it was.  Sheesh.  Good stuff.

So with that, our biggest problem, out of the way, we moved on to more finish work.  We mudded and sanded at the old soffits and cabinets.

She was a freaking rockstar all weekend.
We patched the hole at the new water supply for our icemaker in the fridge. (Lest we forget the wonky holes left from the sweatpants in the wall debacle from a few months ago.)

Best Big Brother Award winner
It was a good day of progress.  And thanks to having Memorial Day off, we had one more day for prepping...


It was a pool day for some...

But a "final touches" type of day for the rest of the worker bees.  A few areas of subfloor near the old dishwasher and sink needed to be repaired...

Transitions at doors and other areas near walls needed to be cleaned up for the wood installer.

Papa and his chisel.

The stairs leading into the den needed to be patched.

And more mudding and sanding needed to happen.  I was officially antiqued by the early afternoon.

Our friends (and down the road neighbors, hey!) the Tolinos came to lend a hand on Monday.  They helped me prime drywall, paint trim and paint the ceiling.

And before I make it sound like Monday was without its drama, the hole in the stair that Nick and his dad were trying to fix?

Yeah, one of our cats (Ziggy Marley) jumped in there and got trapped in the crawlspace.  Which led to Nick spending a good 30 minutes crawling around trying to get him out while I sweetly called for it from the vent.  (In my mind, I was thinking "FINE!  STAY IN THERE!" but I managed to keep my tone sugary.)

That's one patient man.

We were actually able to find the humor in it once he was safe as it eerily mirrored one of our favorite scenes from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  (Warning: the language is a little salty but it is worth 1:34 of your life.)

 But cat hiccup aside, it was a great day and after packing our bags and taking C to Cary (where we stayed this week), Nick and I returned late Monday night to finish cleaning up.  By the end of the weekend we had gone from this:

To this:

 I'll be real with felt pretty good.  I couldn't see straight from the exhaustion, sure, but our sense of accomplishment got us safely to our inlaws that night.

This week

So I figured I'd tack this on since I had a few pictures to share.  Our wood guy (Todd Hoffmann, highly recommended) came first thing Tuesday morning to lay the hardwood floors.  We got red oak, to match the existing floors that were originally covered by carpet in the rest of the house.  Tuesday, he got everything laid.

And yesterday and today, he sanded, stained and sealed.

Polyurethane still needed on the right side but look how seamless the transition is!

And so we move back in maƱana.  This weekend, we'll be tackling cabinets.  Our counter guy is coming to template on Monday morning so we've got another deadline looming.  Stay tuned...the fun stuff is next.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


To preface, let me state that I know we already have a post entitled "Paint Down The Walls." And I don't care. This time the reference makes WAY more sense. So deal with it.

The biggest project of our DIY careers has officially begun. Our 1962 kitchen renovation. The tiny oven. The counter tops that never get completely clean. The drawers that won't open unless the dishwasher is open. The wood paneling. The "recently polyurethaned" wood paneling. Yeah, that was a selling point in the MLS listing. And that's where we begin.

You've seen this before. But still. For reference.
All of this is going away or moving. Except the cat... unless you want a cat. Do you though?

If not for the ultra-mega-sheen of the polyurethane, we probably would've saved at least one wall of this stuff. My childhood bedroom was wood paneling, so there's a place in my heart for it. But there wasn't room for all that shine. So step one - take down enough paneling to make a bigger opening into the hallway. We had to move some wiring. Relocate the alarm system keypad. Take out the non-functioning intercom...

Let's be honest, I would've used trucker phrases like "that's a big 10-4" way too often if this worked.

Now, this is the main panel for the whole-house intercom system. There’s a smaller box in each bedroom.  We both really wanted it to work but alas, it did not. Sarah had a “lifelong dream” of yelling “TINA! COME GET SOME HAM!” into it and hearing it reverberate throughout the house.  (I find this hard to believe considering Napoleon Dynamite came out in 2004, but I love her, so I’m letting it slide.) So short of paying someone a lot of money to come help us figure out how to make it work, she conceded that it could be gutted from the wall. Anyway, it apparently still had power and was on a different circuit, because there was a big POP when I cut that wire. Thankfully no electro-shock therapy.

Papa at work.
This is a load bearing wall, by the way. It was going to need some temporary support while we cut for the new header. We consulted contractors, architects, and structural engineers. We weighed priced the options out, and went with the cheapest solution - which was also what the architects at work and the structural engineer OK'ed. Dad and I put up the temporary header, cut new jack studs, made the new header, and THEN we cut the wall out.

There's a 2x8 on each side of the wall, screwed in to each stud with 4 #10x3" screws. Except the studs on the hallway side we missed, which was most of them.
Me and dad building the new header. 2x12s with 1/2" plywood sandwiched between.
We built and cut perfectly. I cleaned and jerked the header up, then dad hammered it into place.
Day 1 clean up. 

Step two - take down the rest of the paneling. This was the easy part so naturally we called in the big guns aka Kenneth.
It's still beside the house and waiting to be taken to the dump. Why do you ask?

Some electrical was moved around, and it was nap time for Carter... and Kenneth. While they napped, Dad and I went to a home improvement warehouse (which will remain nameless but rhymes with Schlowes) to get the drywall and some miscellaneous electrical supplies. We managed to get back then measure and cut a few pieces before they woke up.

Big Mack screws in the first piece. The angled cut pieces were actually much easier than the 10' tall ones.
This is as far as we got on Saturday.
Day 3 we have our buddy Coach come help us finish the drywall. We're done around lunch time, so after that we send him on his way. We're a bit rushed with normal weekend activities still to be done, so we knock out the taping and call it a weekend.
I swear my shirt wasn't tucked in on purpose. Or maybe it was.
So what's the end of the weekend progress? Not too shabby if I do say so myself.
Before and...
Yeah that's a pretty big difference and a good start. Pretty convenient that the drywall matches very nicely to the existing grey paint. Lots more to come. And because I know you're all wondering what our project manager was up to, he was outside with Sarah practicing his painting.

Child labor laws don't apply to your own children, do they?
He also really, really likes going up ladders. But given that he's 20 months old, he needs help and it was best to keep him "painting."

Next up: breaking down... well, everything else.