Sink and faucet- What’s the verdict?

Posted by Jeffrey on Sep 3, 2009

I realized that its been over a month since I posted on the reno and I guess I started to believe the title of that last post: “Done, done, done…” But really how do we ever define “done” when it comes to renovations?

So as promised here is a bit of a review on some of the choices we made for our first floor renovation. Lets start with the sink and faucet.

Faucet is clean and simple

 

The faucet is a HansGrohe Metro: a single lever, high-arc unit that I picked up on sale at the Home Depot for 20% off after I nearly fainted seeing the prices of other models in a specialty store. I figure that this cost us less than half of what some of the mid priced units were going for at the other store.
Pros –

  • Looks good with a simple clean design – the control lever can be mounted right or left or in the center like we have
  • Feels solid and the unit moves smoothly without sticking
  • From what I saw it was a pretty easy installation
  • Sprayer option on pullout can be operated with one hand

Cons –

  • My biggest beef is that you pull the control lever down to turn it on and left for cold or right for hot. No problem really but seems to be very little fine control – the water goes from a trickle to full blast very quickly. This is something we had to get used to.
  • The head for the pull down doesn’t want to retract fully. There is a little magnet which holds the head in but you have to make sure its aligned before it takes hold
  • The sprayer requires you to hold down the trigger. There is not a setting where you can turn it on and leave it on.

But given the other benefits I think it’s a good trade-off.

Now the sink. Its a Franke RGX-160 ‘Regatta.’

The sink is a good size for the small kitchen and the bottom grid on the left really helps with cleanup

 

I wondered why they were so expensive – I mean its just formed stainless steel right? Well in comparing the it which we ended up purchasing from Bathworks in Ajax with products at the Home Depot, I found that the others didn’t have the solid feel of the Franke. It also had nice sound insulating material on the underside which keeps it from sounding “tinny” when you put something in the bottom. We were pretty fortunate that the sales staff at Bathworks helped us by extending the manufacturers sale offer that included the bottom grid and the strainers. I didn’t think that the grid would be useful but we hand wash a lot so its great to put it right on the grid and have it dry. Once again here are the pros;
Pros –

  • Looks great!
  • Two bowls are different depths so when you put dishes in the deeper one to dry you can hardly see them from the living room. (This was a big consideration to us as you can see that counter run from the living/dining room and we needed it to at least look less cluttered on a day-to-day basis).
  • The strainers really seal when you push them down so no water leaks out.
  • Solid feel! A real difference between this one and other manufacturers I looked at.
  • Sizing fits a 33” base cabinet

Cons –

  • None!

So far we are really happy with these two choices. They are used frequently throughout the day and their solid feel (hopefully) means that we will get many years of use out of them.

Next time I will take a look at our Miele dishwasher and you may be surprised by what we’ve found.


Done, done, done (a bit late)

Posted by Jeffrey on Jul 27, 2009

So, I was so excited to be done the whole reno thing that I forgot to post! Well, in hindsight, it just seemed like we would get really close to being done then something would crop up to push back the completion date a bit further out. Truth be told, it does feel really good to be done and have the rest of the summer to enjoy the house!

When the tile was at last done and the plates were put on the switches, we realized that looking at our punch list that there were no more things left to cross off! And just in time too as we had some friends over on the weekend to “break in” the results.

In terms of impact the work that was done in the kitchen was huge no question. But everyone commented on the new hardwood and the paint as making a big difference to the rest of the floor. Which goes to prove that for the biggest bang for the buck, changing the paint color is usually the way to go to improve your space.

So now to go over some of our choices and how they are holding up in use. First of all, lets start from the bottom up and take a look at the flooring. Everyone agrees that it is really gorgeous. Hickory would not have been the first material on my lips if you’d have asked me a year ago about hardwood, but it looks really elegant. It gives the visual interest you want in a floor with the grain pattern, but not too busy as you get with other hardwoods.

The color also goes really well with our furniture (and the paint, but that’s another story). The only thing I have to get used to is the scratch factor. I still kind of worry about scratching the floor and I know, I know that this is inevitable, but I haven’t gotten over it yet. And even though the manufacturer quotes a “35 year warrantee” and a high tech “Nano” coating it still scratches (all floors do!). In fact my contractor said that he’s never heard of anyone collecting on any manufacturer’s warrantee!

But that’s not really the point here. Our intention was to get a good looking floor to carry through the entire space to unify the living/dining room and the kitchen. I know the contractor thought we were crazy to put hardwood in the kitchen instead of ceramic, we love it! And the new carpet should help with the entry areas.

Carpet looks great with the paint and hardwood!


Speaking of carpet we selected a great fabric from D’Abbieri Collection called “Leggero – Undercool” and it feels really luxurious underfoot. The carpet installer (Victorious Flooring) did a fantastic job doing the stair runner and the front hall. He even set up the cutting so that we could maximize the carpet installation within the least amount of carpet saving us about $400 in the process!

So next time I will get into some detail on some of the fixtures in the kitchen proper and maybe sum up our experiences.


Looking at drywall compound (again, sigh…)

Posted by Jeffrey on Jun 12, 2009

Well, it looked like almost everything was done and then this happened….

Ripping out the backsplash. It had to be done….


hmmm… drywall compound as a backsplash?


Its not like we didn’t know, and I know its only a small setback but it has slowed us down somewhat in getting things back to a somewhat normal state around here. Luckily it wasn’t too messy today…

I think the electician will be back to hook up the dining room pendant and exterior light and finish off the rest of his work next week (when he gets back from Disneyworld). And I am getting some wood delivered so I can put up a pergola over the deck just outside the door, where it gets really hot in the sun. I figured, I had pretty much taken out the railing anyway, so I might as well extend the posts up and put in a sun shade. We shall see how that goes!


A few things to wait on to finish the reno

Posted by Jeffrey on Jun 4, 2009

The stucco guys were here today to patch the area where the bricklayer filled in the windows. Tomorrow (I hope) they’ll be back to scratch coat the entire wall to even it out. Judging by the mess today just from the patch, the next coat will be messy…. Very messy.

But we are still waiting on a few things. The tile contractor has to take a look at the backsplash to give us an opinion on the job and the electrician has to come and put in the trims for the potlights and all the plates on the switches. And in the kitchen we couldn’t push the stove all the way back- it is just about ¾” out too far and it interferes slightly with the door mounted spice rack beside the stove. Maybe we can figure it out later.

Slide in stoves don’t always slide all the way.


We still are putting things back in the cupboards and deciding if they are in the right place. We never really thought of it before as we were so short of space that organization was an afterthought. In this case we can hopefully think of what makes sense in the way we work and organize accordingly. But I think we will just run out of patience and put stuff back and worry about it later. Anything to get rid of those boxes!

But the floor looks good.


On the weekend I finished painting the ceiling and the one area on the wall that’d been holding us up and we ripped off some of the kraft paper that was protecting the floor. I’d forgotten how good the floor looked! But it reminded me that we still have to get some carpet or runners done for the front hall and near the back door. So with that in mind, we went to a store to select a carpet sample and lo and behold within five minutes we found one we both agreed on.

Got the drapes up-finally.


So now it’s a case of finding someone that can do the custom work to cut around all the vents etc that are in the front hall.

I just finished painting the walls in the kitchen and just have the second coat to do near the stairs – almost done! When I said I would do the painting, I seem to have forgotten how much time it takes. At least the paint I’m using is good (Aura by Benjamin Moore) so it makes it a bit easier to cover the last of the yellow.


Are we close to finishing the reno? Not sure but I am hoping!

Posted by Jeffrey on May 22, 2009

After a great week of work last week (and frantic efforts to get us up and running for the long weekend) not too much happened this week. As it was a short week, the contractor was only here a few times to do some minor things. That’s usually the way it is when getting close to the finish: there are many small things to do and often they don’t make as big an impact as putting in the countertop.

So this week more handles got installed on the cabinet doors and some adjustments got made so the panel on the dishwasher can fit properly within the cabinet. Just a quick word for those intrepid souls who try to install their Miele dishwasher – when you cut the hole for the hoses to hook up to the supply and drain, make sure you get them as far back towards the wall as you can or, better yet, cut the hole close to the floor and bring them up through the bottom of the sink base. Reason? There is a cut-out on the bottom of the dishwasher that goes up about 6” that lets the hoses fit between the wall and the dishwasher and if the hole through the cabinet is too high, when the unit is pushed back, it will pinch the hoses. We did a lot of measuring before we pushed this one back so we knew where to cut the hole, but if you didn’t, you might be met with a nasty mess one morning.

Oh yeah, and the tile behind the sink is a bit rough. We are waiting to see what can be done (if anything) about it.

With the dishwasher panel in, the look is more seamless.


So next week I have to sand the patch in the ceiling, prime and paint it as well as the kitchen ceiling, paint the rest of the walls and put in all the baseboards. Oh yeah and paint the patches upstairs that the electrician drilled to run the track and rewire a few outlets. And still no word on a stucco contractor to patch the back of the house. I hope this doesn’t take weeks to get done, but really as long as we can get the stuff into the kitchen (and our furniture up from the basement) I will be extremely happy.

We can use the stove again!



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Counter is in – but back to the basement

Posted by Jeffrey on May 13, 2009

I didn’t think anything was going to be happening at the house this week because we were waiting for the countertop to be installed.  We were told that it would take 10 business days for the counter to be fabricated so understanding human nature I thought it would be fortunate if it did arrive on the 10th day.  Well as good luck would have it I was wrong!

Early this morning the contractor was at our house and I asked him why he was here.  He said that the countertop with showing up at any minute.  I was pretty surprised that it was showing up early and I helped him cleanup a bit of the kitchen in preparation for the installation.  I brought up the sink and they brought in the counter and it was a way to the races.

The countertop was fabricated with strips of plywood attached to the underside.  This is so that if the countertop ever has to be removed you can unscrew it from the cabinets without having to rip it right off.  It also helps to attach the dishwasher when that’s installed.

The installation went pretty smoothly was finished in about 45 minutes.  The only area where the installer had some problems was that the back corner under the window.  He had to take out a bit of drywall [only about ¼ inch] push the counter back enough to make it fit.

He then siliconed the under mount sink and pushed it into place against the underside of the countertop.  He just cut two pieces of wood to hold it in place underneath while it dried.  And then he applied a little bit of silicone to the joint between the countertop and the wall and that was it.  Off to the next job.

Sink finally out of basement in its proper place.


So now we have to wait hopefully only a day or two until the plumber can hook up the faucet and the drain on the sink.  He will also do the dishwasher at that time.  So that is why we’re back in the basement.  With no running water in the kitchen we have to go back downstairs to get water for cooking.

But with the counter and sink installed its really starting to look finished and the material looks fantastic with the cabinet color and the flooring.  It’s a quartz countertop from Hanstone and with the bits of quartz which reflect the light and the other subtle colors it picks up the browns and reds from the floor.

Countertop and doors make it look like a real kitchen!


Can’t wait for the appliances to go back in.


So now we’re getting to the part of the job where we have to make note of all the items that have to be completed [and a lot of them are mine].  Things that I have to do include  priming and painting the living room ceiling, installing new trim around the dining room window, priming and painting all the window trim and even repainting the stairs as they got a bit banged up over the past couple months.  I have to say it’s looking really good and I can’t wait for it to be done so we can enjoy having friends and family over again without having to wonder where the spatula is!


Looking like a kitchen- cabinets are up

Posted by Jeffrey on Apr 30, 2009

After a few really long days, the installer got the boxes up and the soffit trim installed around the top. Today the electrician was here for about ¾ of the day to put in the rest of the dimmer switches and undercabinet pucks.
As far as the dimmers go, I told him I want everything that comes from the ceiling (and undercabinet lights) to be dimmable. He looked at me like I had a hole in my head but its important to me to be able to control the light levels whether its task lighting or the potlights.

Undercabinet lights are in.


My rationale is that you might want different light for a party than for food prep or even at different times of the year. Since the kitchen pots are on a 3-way switch, we had to go with a 3-way dimmer, which is more expensive. Go figure.
I also went with pucks over the strip lights because it seems like they were more flexible to go under the different sized cabinets. We got Xenon ones and they are much cooler than halogens and should (I’m told) last much longer too.

The lights will look different once the backsplash and counter are in


So hopefully tomorrow the countertop will be templated then a few more small things to touch up. Then we wait- for about 2 weeks while the quartz is fabricated. I hope to have at least a temporary sink installed so we can have running water in the kitchen. Is that too much to ask?


Kitchen cabinet installation – proceeding along

Posted by Jeffrey on Apr 28, 2009

When you have some work done on your house, in my opinion you have to be an optimist. When things go wrong, you have to be able to see the big picture otherwise with the number of moving parts you’d pull your hair out with all the changes.
That being said, I was watching the installer put up the cabinets and didn’t really want to ask him how it was going for fear of jinxing the installation. So I will just shut up and show the pictures and let you see for yourself.

Cabinets going up


Fridge isn’t going to stay there…really.



The kitchen cabinets arrived and I can’t wait for the install

Posted by Jeffrey on Apr 27, 2009

Well not sure why it takes 6 days from Quebec to my house here, but after being shipped out last Tuesday the cabinets were delivered today to the house. As you can see, a kitchen takes up a lot of space before it’s installed!

All 17 pieces! Hope thats everything.


The cabinets look really good and strong – 3/4″ birch plywood, even for the parts that won’t be seen, like under the countertop! You can really feel how rigid they are (in contrast to the old cabinets.)

Nicely finished plywood


The contractor is coming tomorrow to start the install and we’ll see what tricks he has to use to get everything to fit.

I finished painting the trim and baseboard. I decided to use the paint sprayer just for the primer- it went on fairly well, but brushed and rolled the final coat of Benjamin Moore Palace White. It made more sense to pre-paint everything before I put it up and then I just have to touch up when it is installed.


Windows: not too big, not too small, just right

Posted by Jeffrey on Mar 12, 2009

One of the critical things that we need to confirm is the size of the new window that we are installing in the kitchen. The existing window is too low and too close to the wall so we are taking the existing one out and replacing it with a new one in the correct location to allow our upper cabinets to go right to the wall.

We don’t want the window to be too small (because we need to get as much light in as possible), but if it is too large, the uppers might not fit! So we need to get the sizing right so that the rough opening will accomodate the window. It would really be a pain if the window shows up on site and we can’t get it to fit!

So I have arranged today to get the window salesman to come by the house to confirm the measurements and hopefully can get it ordered today!


Kitchen’s done, at least this project

Posted by Jeffrey on Jun 27, 2007

Well, I finished the $100 kitchen reno and as you can see in this earlier post, we managed to stay under $100 even including some other items, like the mirror I put up and the ‘blackboard’ I created by painting the end of one of the cabinets (just out of view in the foreground).

The new counters and floors make the kitchen feel more included in the rest of the house.


Lets start with the floor: it took a lot longer than I thought (but of course you knew that by now!) I put the tiles on the diagonal for more interest and it also seems to make the space bigger. Even though it is way more graphic than the original, it seems less busy since the pattern is more simple.

It took a lot longer because of the diagonal the number of cuts required on the tiles sometimes 3 cuts per tile to get around all of the various angles in the room. Even though I included some waste in my calculations, I ended up with just one black and 7 white tiles left! (These tiles by the way, were really hard to come by. In fact I had to go to 4 Home Depots (no luck there) and 3 Ronas to finally find them and I think I got the last package of white tiles in the city.) There was a lot of selection for $2-3 per square foot, but I couldn’t do it for this budget.

Knobs were from Lee Valley, a package of 20 for $5.95 on close out sale! They are actually metal (not plastic) so hope they hold up better than the plastic that were originally on the door.

I think the countertop makes the most difference in the feel as it really brightens the room up and makes it appear less busy, although we have started to clean up the kitchen more!

The mirror came from IKEA and had a really thin frame which I built up with chair rail trim from the Depot which I cut on the mitre saw and glued up, before painting the whole frame to match the rest of the trim in the house.

So there we are and I hope it ties us over for the next few years as we save money and ideas for what we really want to do. It may end up being longer than that if past experience is any indication!

Just for a laugh, I dug up a picture of the original kitchen

The orignal color has the space looking like a hospital waiting room.


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The $100 Kitchen Reno (taxes not included)

Posted by Jeffrey on May 22, 2007

What do you think it takes to make a kitchen more livable? That’s what we’re trying to find out as the cost for really doing it right is quickly spiralling out of control.

By ‘right’ I mean that in addition to new cabinets, countertop, backsplash in the kitchen itself the floor needs to be leveled. Since this will make the rest of the floor look funny (and we can’t match the old worn out floors in the rest of the house) we want to carry new flooring front to back.

Now it is open concept, but a very small space as you can see in other pictures here, so it isn’t out of consideration, but kinda out of reach for now.

The current state of the kitchen. I have taken off the old plastic handles and started patching the holes, ready for paint touch ups.


So we are planning a bit of paint, some new knobs, maybe some cheap and cheerful tile and patching up some, ummm, holes left over from some wiring done at the same time as the basement. We’ll see how close we get to $100, but as always, I will be providing the “free” labour.

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