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Friday, October 5, 2007

On to Plan B

This is part four of our story, the tedius stuff. To start from the beginning, click here.

Our original plan was to expand the kitchen into the dining area and then add a den and dining area. We were about halfway into the kitchen remodel when we learned that the septic problems were the result of a roofing company driving their truck over the septic lines, crushing both the pipe from the house and the main connection to the lateral lines and one bathroom had so many problems it couldn't be used. There went the money for our addition. From then on, creativity and ingenuity was the name of the game.

While I wish I had pictures showing the progress we made with the house, it was just impossible to have a camera with us in those first few weeks, and even afterwards, it was hard to stop what we were doing, and clean our hands so we could handle a camera.

Since we needed to do some major work on the bathroom and septic system, we wouldn't be able to build a dining room, laundry room, and family room now, so we revised our plan. We now needed to make the most of the 1406 square feet in the original footprint. It was too late to change the plan to enlarge the kitchen because we had already ordered custom cabinets and counter tops. That was a decision I regretted many times over. We never dreamed it would take so long to finally have a dining room. As it was, our only eating area was the peninsula in the kitchen, it only seated four and that was a tight fit.

Remember the original floor plan?

This is our new plan

Since the house had been built in the early 1980's with a farm house look, I wanted to continue in that vein. As much as I like French Provincial, it just wouldn't look right in this house. A neighbor, who has a lovely house with diamond shaped leaded glass bay windows, did the entire interior of her house with Spanish styling - Mexican tile, wrought iron stair rails, and thickly textured walls that resemble stucco. While the interior is well done and beautiful, it is such a contrast to the exterior that it is a bit jarring. I wanted the interior and exterior of this house to be in harmony. It is a simple, little house. It's rooms are small and need a clean, simple design.

So here are the changes we made:

Even though we didn't want the laundry room in the middle of the house, we were forced to keep it there now. We closed off the small hall and opened up the washer and dryer closet to make a larger laundry room. We used the upper cabinets from above the washer dryer in the kitchen to save a little money. We moved the kitchen door to keep most of the traffic at one end of the room. As it turned out, the exterior door by the fireplace leaked badly, both from rain and north winter winds, so we sealed it off for now.

We soon had these few walls moved and sheetrocked, the new tub in place, and the cabinets moved in the kitchen. Now we were ready to finish the walls. Hubby talked to the contractors he knew and bartered a trade for the mud and tape, and texturing of the living room and the patched walls. The contractor exchanged the work for one of our Gordon Setters and an extra spray rig Hubby had. Afterward, we moved all the doors into the garage and Hubby sprayed all the walls with a flat white and all the doors and trim with a white enamel. Colors could come later.

We had no flooring, no appliances, no curtains, no fence, and only one working bathroom when we moved in with two young daughters and three dogs, one of whom would soon have puppies. With most of our belongings still in the same boxes I packed when we sold our last house six months before, it was easier to put them in the garage than bring them in and unpack them. Still, having the rest of our stuff moved into an unfinished house meant working around them or moving them to other areas to get any work done. The remodel just got harder.

Before moving in, we spent every waking moment working on the house as hard as we could. After we moved in, the pace definitely slowed down. It is so much harder to get moving when we came home from work and there was a soft chair to sink into, and a tv to watch. Even so, we began laying tile, putting in fixtures, and making it home. We chose white tile with a slight marbled design to lighten and visually expand our small rooms.

About that floor tile. We have never tiled before, and thought it was a job best left to experts - until we got a few estimates. Then we looked at each other and said how hard could this be? With only the aid of a video we thought we could tackle the floor. It would have been soooo much easier if we had had the internet back then, and if the internet was the tool it is today. Our source for finding a place to buy tile was limited to the phone book and Hubby's contractor connections. Most of those recommended a big tile place, and that is where we ended up buying the tile. And since we knew we would be adding on a dining room in the near future, we bought enough for that too. A few months later, Hubby happened to be driving through an area of The City when he saw a sign for an outlet of that same tile company. He went in and found the exact tile we bought, for half the price! Still makes me sick to think about it.

We had a problem area in the kitchen floor. It was a depression made from the power float concrete finishing machine - we could see the blade marks on the outer edges. The depression was in the area where the water heater had been laying when we first saw the house and it extended into the water heater closet and the new laundry room, though not as deep in those areas. Hubby filled the deepest area in the kitchen and smoothed it over to the walls and into the other areas. It was still not level, but better. I don't know who poured and finished the slab on this house, but he has been added to my mental hit list.

The tile would run from the entry, across the back of the living room, and into the kitchen and utility areas. So we began by centering the line from the front door to the kitchen sink, and began tiling in the entry, crossed the living room, and through the kitchen on that line. Once in the kitchen, we first worked toward the nearest wall and utility areas That's when we ran into problems the video hadn't covered. Despite the fill that had been done, which was much less next to the wall, the floor still wasn't perfectly flat, and after Hubby finished that area, we left it for awhile to work on something else. We we began working on the tile again, it was obvious that the tile was off. The chalk line fell into the slope; where the line should have marked was thin air, pressing it down to make contact moved it down about 3/16 of an inch. 3/16 of an inch doesn't seem like much, except when it is at the end of a straight line of tile, especially when there is a group of tile off by that amount, and each one is at the end of a line of tile. We thought it would better after it was grouted, but we were wrong. Then we thought once the whole kitchen was done, it wouldn't be noticeable. Wrong again. Over the years I have learned to ignore it, especially after other things needed more attention, but I regret not fixing that when we first noticed it. What can I say? We were amateurs.

We had the kitchen tile halfway done when it was time for puppies!

Hubby did some wheelin' n dealin' and traded the other two adult dogs we had, so after the puppies were born, we were back up to six dogs and four humans living in the house. We knew we needed a fence, but it became more evident after teenagers from another neighborhood decided to start using our yard as a shortcut to their friends' houses. So work stopped momentarily inside so we could get a chain link fence around the backyard - about three quarters of an acre.

After the puppies were old enough to stay outside, that is, when they kept us up all night making noise, Hubby built a dog run next to the shed in the back yard with a doggie door into the shed. Once the dogs were out of the kitchen, we finished the floor tile and the backsplash.

Until next time, may you have blessings and tenacity,

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