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Saturday, November 17, 2018

Renovation Diary: Why Skim Coating Is Worth the Cost

—Original old world plaster walls—
When we got the bids on this job, one area where they varied was in the treatment of the walls, and the difference came down to skim coat. You may be asking yourself is skim coat even necessary or worth the added cost? It is if you're blending old and new — and the old walls are 1946 plaster. Here's why.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Renovation Diary: IKEA's Delivery Service XPO Logistics Sucks

IKEA outsources their delivery needs to a company called XPO Logistics, and that's a terrible business mistake for a company that prides itself on high quality products and customer experience. We are now on our fourth delivery attempt, scheduled for Monday.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Renovation Diary: Obsessed With "Hidden" Outlets

I woke up early with the nagging worry that we probably forgot to put outlets back on the living room side of the wall that we’d torn down then put back up again. Sure, I made myself try to sleep (or at least rest) until 5am, then I gave up, got up, and started brewing the morning coffee. I took mine through the zip wall to take a look at the work that had been done yesterday in the light of day. I was so relieved. Not only had Aleks remembered to put back the outlet, he’d given me an extra one exactly where my reading lamp will go. Bless him. A good contractor who is forward-thinking is worth his fee.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Renovation Diary: Restoring the Floors

Aleks texted from a flooring store where he’s picking up red oak slats for the section of floor that used to be the galley kitchen but is now down to it’s subfloors. I had hoped originally to find that underneath the porcelain tile we’d find the same hardwood floors that are in the rest of the rooms, but nope, just subfloor. It’s too bad to lose the old slats from the dining area, but they were all one length, not feathered. To make the two sides, old galley kitchen and old dining area, match, Aleks’s floor guy will have to re-do both rooms in the same material, feather the slats of various sizes, and stain them the same natural stain as the rest of the house.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Renovation Diary: Design Elements


I woke up this morning before the alarm went off with a dreadful feeling that I’m making a mistake with the lighting over the sideboard — specifically the plan to use the extra pendant there. I’d purchased four to go over the island, when it was an island, but now I’m only using three since the wall became partially closed again. They’re custom, and can’t be returned, hence the idea to use the extra one over the sideboard. I thought perhaps it would  tie in the design of the two rooms. But I woke up realizing that it will hang too low and will obscure the artwork that I plan to hang there. Also, it’s a downlight that won't illuminate the sculpture that I’m going to put on the sideboard either. What I really need there is a "wall wash."

Monday, November 5, 2018

Renovation Diary: The Exhausting Mid-Point

Today begins Week 3. In my experience, the rough-ins period is the toughest for the homeowner in any kitchen renovation. With parts of walls and ceilings down everywhere we turn, the rough-ins for plumbing, gas, and electrical have been underway since last week, and we’ve been living with holes and plaster dust everywhere. This is the phase when the excitement of finally getting your project underway has worn off, and you just can’t escape the fact that you’re living in a construction zone.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Renovation Diary: Mixing Metal Finishes in My Kitchen

The pure white field and deep navy vein of the paonazzo marble we saw yesterday is sparking all kinds of design and decor choices in my mind. I drafted a new mood board. So much has changed since I drafted my original mood board that I thought it would be painful to compare them, but it isn't, because I love the new design even more.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Renovation Diary: Marble Shopping

—Paonazzo marble, Elizabeth Roberts Architecture
Our home is a construction zone on the other side of the zip wall and there's a distinctly alkaline note of lime dust in my coffee this morning, so it was a real relief to spend the day marble shopping with Ross at Bas Stone in Long Island City. This stone yard — operated by two sisters — is like no other stone yard I've ever visited. We saw so many beautiful marble slabs, and one that I think may be The One.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Renovation Diary: The Case for Choosing Appliances First

This morning I'm trading Craigslist emails with people who want to buy my Thermador oven stack — that's right, the same oven stack I was so excited to find at a good price myself just a few months back on CL. The one I went to great lengths to arrange delivery for. The wall oven that completed my "dream kitchen." Though it would not have helped my particular situation, based on this experience I advise anyone planning a kitchen to choose your appliances first.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Renovation Diary: How to Create a Lighting Plan

I met with Alex this morning to go over my lighting plan. If you've never done one, it's a map showing where you want your lights to go and indicating, with dotted lines, where those lights should have switches located. You also indicate where outlets should go. When I was a renovation newbee on my first kitchen, I neglected to do this and I ended up with a gorgeous kitchen that was not well-lit. I also ended up with cutouts for outlets interrupting the flow of my expensive slate backsplash. This time I was prepared.