Monday, December 17, 2012

Day 2 - Procrastination Day

Nobody procrastinates better than a Porter.  As much as I hate it, it was programmed into me at birth.  The patriarch of our family, the one who always remains nameless, can take months, if not years to make a decision and by that time whatever he was thinking about has become irrelevant. (Although, if you listen to Rush's song Freewill it has a line in it that says "If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice."  That certainly makes me feel better.)  Because of this, I try to set timelines for decisions to be made, don't always make it but I try.  I can't tell you how many times I have lost out on something because I had to "think about it."  I was proud of myself when we put an offer in on the house we purchased a few days ago.  I only thought about it for 12 hours and the following evening wrote an offer.  And it was a good thing I acted quickly because less than 24 hours later another offer came in virtually identical to ours.  The only reason the owners worked with us, we were first.  

Although the house is move in ready and doesn't need much work we, like everyone else who ever bought a house, want to make some changes so we can call it ours.  The easy decision for this house was where to start with our changes, the kitchen.  It is the one room where it is hard demo it after you move in.  Who wants to wash dishes in the bathroom sink and cook dinner in a microwave night after night?
The kitchen doesn't look bad in the pic above but once you get closer you start to see it.  The mismatched cabinet doors, doors hung crooked and nothing lines up is just the beginning.  (And if there is something else ingrained in our DNA it's Porter's hate crooked lines.)  We don't have to talk about the layers of paint and ugly door knobs and hinges.  

Also, check out the wood work above the stove hood.
What is that called?  It doesn't match anything in the kitchen let along the entire house, definitely has to go.  The entire area around the hood doesn't look quite right, I can't put my finger on it but it just looks, well, weird.  

It's a good thing we had almost two months to think, discuss, argue about what we wanted to do with the kitchen.  Actually, there was very little, if any, arguing, we are lucky both of our design styles somewhat match.  We both like the country look with a  touch of rustic and modern influence, probably a little different than most people but I have found examples on the Houzz web site thereby reinforcing our ideas.

The first decision, we must reuse the lower cabinets because the counter tops are new granite counter tops and we like the counter tops.  Next, upper cabinets.  I hate the soffit plus soffits are on their way out and  these are terribly built, full height upper cabinets are what's hot now.  I had a different idea, open shelves where all your dishes are exposed for all to see.  My problem, I wasn't sure how the wife was going to react.  I was ready, I had several pics to show her of kitchens with open shelves.  (By the way if you want good ideas for any room in our house check out the Houzz web site, it's a great place to find new ideas or reinforce your ideas.)  She reacted favorably and the upper cabinets are gone and open shelving in.  The only question remaining, two or three shelves, to date neither of us have decided.

Next decision, to paint or to stain?  I like the idea of staining but I have also always wanted a kitchen with white cabinets.  If we decide to stain then we have to strip the cabinets (we already made the decision to replace the doors and drawers with new so all we need to strip are the face frames on the cabinets).  If we paint then a little sanding is all we have to do.  

I cruised through the Houzz web site looking for ideas and the more I saw dark cabinets the more I wanted to go dark.  
I'm talking about Ikea dark, like their brown black color but the only problem?  Nobody makes the stain and Ikea doesn't sell it but it can be duplicated my mixing two different stains.  I tried it and it works, it's beautiful when completed, at least in my opinion.  

But somewhere along the line, while waiting for closing, we decided we didn't think stripping the cabinets would work out.  We were afraid the stain wouldn't look right, and who knows what kind of wood, if they are wood, they are built from.  So for the sake of time and maybe some convenience, we decided to paint, although still dark but try and match the Ikea brown black color.  

After a few trips to the big box stores looking at paint chips we didn't have much luck.  I finally found a color on line called bittersweet chocolate but once I painted it on a white board it turned out to have more red in it than I liked.  So much for that, time to start over.

Day 2 takes me to the house to look over the kitchen closer and decide how I want to proceed.  I am only giving myself until the next morning to decide because Day 3 I want to start, and must if we want to be complete and moved in by the end of January.

On closer inspection of the kitchen cabinets I see the cabinets are in worse shape then  I originally thought.  I might have to think about this for awhile.  I climbed in the cabinets to check every nook and cranny  to see how the cabinets were constructed, how the granite counter top was fastened down and what was holding up the counter top.  What I found, the face frame of the cabinet was holding up the kitchen sink, which is cast iron, not good, and one of the supports is broke.  When the new counter tops were installed, furring strips were installed on top of the cabinets to bring the counter top height to 36".  The cabinets on each side of the stove were completely different than the rest of the cabinets.  I'm not sure I'm ready to tackle what I think I might have to do with these cabinets to make them look good again.  What all this adds up to is a perfect recipe for PROCRASTINATION!!!

There is no time for procrastination, we start on Day 3.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Day 1 - Relief

Well, look what's back, my first blog, the one I started a few years ago that chronicles most of my time when I lived in Wisconsin.  It's been dormant for the last 3-1/2 years because most of my blogging has been over on my good grub site and if I had any random thoughts, they were posted on Facebook with a single photo and usually a single incoherent thought.  Facebook is fine but for many photos and lots of unstructured sentences with random, incoherent thoughts, nothing beats a blog.

I'm treating this more as a journal of the house so I can look back and have a timeline of where we started to where we ended with all the changes we made along the way.  I know this blog is out there where all planet earth can read it but I suspect few will, other than family and I suspect they are on the fence.

I've changed the name of the blog from Jock's Random Thoughts to Jock's Renovation Realities.  I thought about naming the blog Jock's Old New House but big sis already has a patent on that name for her house, and besides that it's really not that old of a house, originally built in 1978.  It's not that we purchased a house that needs any major renovations, it's more decorating and minor upgrades, but one of my favorite shows is call Renovation Realities on the DIY Network.  The show is about couples that take on renovation projects in their house with a budget and time frame.  Usually, by the end of the show, the husband and wife are mad at each other, they are over budget and never finish on time.  Now do you see why Jock's Renovation Realities is such a good name for my blog?  Thought so.

Unlike big sis who prefers to trade cookies and pies for lattes and invoices, we will be doing most of the work on our house ourselves.  I need a hobby and this house will be it.  A void was left in my life a few years ago when I quit coaching softball and baseball after the little ones graduated from high school.  It's amazing how much time is spent chasing kids from one field to another and from sport to sport.  It's funny because you don't even realize it until it's over, then you wonder what happened to the time and how did it go so fast.  

But enough of that, time to introduce the star of this show and that is the house.
We closed on it last Friday, day 1, after waiting for two long, excruciating months.  That was our fault because we were trying to push the first payment back as far as possible since we have a lease on our present place until March.  It really wasn't too excruciating until the last couple of weeks and I kept thinking "What's going wrong nobody is calling me?"  But as our Realtor told me "If you aren't hearing from anyone it means everything is going good, they normally only call if something is wrong."  Turns out that quote from our agent was dead on because the next day I got a call and the water coming into the house had high concentrations of lead and failed its inspection.  After the testing agency found out the house had been empty for the last 7-8 months, they went back and ran the water for a couple of hours and re-tested.  The water passed its second test, as we learned, high concentrations of lead are common in houses that have sat for extended period of time.
It's an all brick house nestled among tall oaks and ugly bushes, thankfully, the ugly bushes are leaving.  In the front you enter from the lower level with most of the living space located on the second level.  In back, the second level exits, on grade, to a large deck that will hold lots of outdoor cooking devices.
The reason we settled on this house, besides the fact it is out in the country and we have space, is the kitchen.  Not that the kitchen is great, it's not, actually well used with too much paint on all the cabinets and cabinets that don't match but it has new granite counter tops and top of the line appliances.
This kitchen has loads of potential and doesn't require a complete overhaul, maybe a face lift and an island.  Besides that, how many kitchens have a built in charcoal grill?
That's where the tour will end today, more tours will come as we move through the house making our own personal changes so this place feels like not only our house but also, our home.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I'm Baaaaack!

Yep that's right I'm back living and working in the DC area. If you remember we left here 2 years ago thinking we would never back but guess what? Things change and never say never.

We settled on the Rockville Maryland area to live. We live in what they call a 'planned community.' I'm not sure what that means but I think it means some thought was put into the layout of the neighborhoods. We have most conveniences we need within 2 blocks of our home. Lots of restaurants, grocery store, banks, and even an ice cream shop. I haven't checked out the ice cream shop yet but I will shortly.

As far as shopping goes around here what do you want? Whole Foods? How about 2 within 5 miles. Trader Joes? How about 3 miles away. Costco? Target? Kohls? Barnes and Noble? Dicks? Too many to count. Do you like malls? Indoor? Outdoor? Take your pick still too many to count. How about a REI store big sis? Yep got one. In fact from what I can see there is a least one of everything on the main drag called Rockville Pike.

How about restaurants? I like eating at all the different restaurants and I will be years if not decades eating my way through all the different restaurants. The only kind of restaurant there isn't an over abundance of is barbecue types, although I went to a Good Times Restaurant the other night and they had pretty good ribs.

As far as what we live in it is called a condo. Why I don't know because it could be considered an apartment or even a small townhouse. We have a kitchen, living room, family room (not sure which is which, what one is the TV in?) two bedrooms and 2-1/2 baths. Seems out of whack to have more bathrooms than bedrooms but that is the way it is done around here. It's a quiet community even quieter than the apartment I was living in in Wisconsin.

In our family room (?) we have for furniture 1 TV and two chairs, lawn chairs, to sit in. Our living room consist of a dining room table and 4 chairs and our living room (?) has our computer set up on a cardboard box and cooler. HGTV would love our decorating ideas. In our bedroom we have a dresser and queen size bed. The queen size bed is a air mattress but you can't tell when you look at it. It sits about 2 feet off the floor and is very comfortable I actually sleep better on that than the bed I had in Wisconsin.

For the kitchen I have almost all my day to day cooking utensils and I hope to get back to updating Jock's Good Grub blog soon now that I have someone to cook for again. The grilling blogs will be in short supply for the next year or so since we can't grill here but you can look for other methods to try and get that same grilled flavor. I got some ideas.

If anyone wants to come visit I have 1 spare bedroom just bring a sleeping bag. We are located one short bus ride from the metro that will take you anywhere in the DC area. If anyone is interested in the middle of October they close some of the streets of DC and let the bikers use them. I don't have all the particulars yet but I am thinking about riding in it. I believe it is 100 miles long but like I said I need to get more information.

Next time I plan on having pictures to show so you can see out decorating ideas at work. I think you will be impressed.