No more inconveniencing friends and neighbors. No more sink wash ups. 41 days after moving into my home, I took my first shower…….and that’s all I have to say about that!
I spent my first Christmas in my home installing the last of the light fixtures. Funny for the past few years I sought out avenues to spend Christmas away from my house, but this year I had no desire to be any place else.
I can’t lay full claim to installing the ceiling fans. My fabulous electrician, Mr. McGhee did the brunt work on them. I put all but two together and hung them, but he did all the wiring. My comfort level with wiring is when I have a ground, black, and white wire. Ground to ground, white to white, black to black. Cut off the power and I can wire that combination in my sleep. There were a few more colors involved with fans, so I left that to him.
I purchased all the fans from Build.com. The fans in the kitchen, office, and guest bedroom are the Supra series from MinkaAire. I got 44″, oil rubbed bronze with school-house light kits with wall and hand held controls for the office and guest bedrooms. The light kit matches the glass shades of the bathroom light fixtures. One would think I actually know how to design 😊. I got a 32″, brushed steel, with universal light kit for the kitchen; wall control only. I also installed the can lights in the kitchen.
Do you remember back in the day when we only had incandescent bulbs and you just needed to know your wattage? Now there is halogen, LED, and lumens to deal with. Well after a few tries in both the kitchen and living room I figured out 2700-3000 lumens is the soft, warm glow I was looking for in my can lights and I went with LED for energy efficiency.
The school-house globe theme continues in the living room and entry foyer. The ceiling fan in the living room was the biggest splurge. I originally had a 52″ Supra for this room, but discovered it was too small. 52″ is the largest that series goes, so I went back to the website and thankfully found an even more perfect fan, Fanimation C1 Distinction 60″. It also comes in a 72″, but what made this fan cool is I was able to select a clear schoolhouse shade for its light kit, matching the clear globe of the entry foyer light (purchased from Lampsplus.com). There goes that designer touch again. I love the modern spin of the clear globes accentuated with the LED Edison bulbs.
The ceiling fan in the master bedroom is a Kichler Starkk 60″ The Supra series did not offer a brass version, so I went with a different brand. Again I had originally ordered a 52″ in this same model, but it was too small for the space. Build.com is great with returns, very hassle free, and I get replacements fast.
The above just catches you up, enough about the new stuff. Now for the old and how I actually spent Christmas. I finally got to hang the remaining original light fixtures. If you recall my post, The Old Become New, I had several light fixtures I was able to salvage and had restored by Gable Electric. I hung the last two brass fixtures, both returned to their original home, in the hallway and entry to 1st floor bathroom.
The featured picture is hanging in my rear foyer. That was the original ceiling light in the office. I would have to imagine that same fixture was probably in the guest bedroom, but long gone by the time I took possession.
I have been buying bulbs from Bulbs.com for years for Inner Circle, so in my hunt for Edison bulbs I came across these Bulbrite 40W vintage oil lantern replica bulbs. Lovely! The bulbs in the brass fixtures I got from Amazon. Aspen Creative 10002 G30 Vintage Edison Filament 60 watt.
My dining room lights have to be my most favorite, now that they are installed. These fixtures once hung in the living room. Only 5 of what I assume was 8 were in the house when I purchased it. Again in my search for nostalgic bulbs on Bulbs.com I came across Bulbrite Satin ThreadSpun Antique Decorative bulbs. The “Spun Thread” design and satin color resemble the warm appearance of 19th century gas lights when lit, so I bit on the description and decided to give them a try. Great decision. The lights are on a dimmer switch and really look cool when dimmed.
The only lights left to install have not been purchased. I need a pendant for kitchen and chandelier for the dining room. I won’t get dining room until I finalize my table, so that light box will be capped for now. I’m regretting not putting a can light over the peninsula in the kitchen as finding the right light has been difficult. However, Lampsplus just sent me an email letting me know the price has dropped on a light I had been looking at (websites are such stalkers these days), so I think I just made up my mind. Continuance of the school-house theme, Possini Euro Morris 9″ mini pendant. Same brand as the entry foyer light.
In case you’re wondering why the schoolhouse theme. 1) it fits with the era of the house, but 2) and more significant to me is that my foundation was built and made strong by three teachers that have left an indelible mark on me: my mother, Phyllis Gaston, and Jennifer Cottingham. My mother and Mrs. Gaston have gone on to a greater place, but I hope Ms. Cottingham is doing well; I would love to find her and invite her to see what I’ve done. If anyone out there knows a Jennifer Cottingham (she’d be in her mid 70s and last known address was in northern Kentucky) send me her contact info.
Last, but not least, I must update you on the natural light that is now pouring into my house. The entry foyer stain glass window is back. I still have work to do, staining the flexible molding and returning the frame, but having it back makes a world of difference to the front entry.
Last Sunday my two church pals, Bethany and Patty, were on the same brain wave when they both showed up with mini Christmas trees for me. Given my state of disarray I had decided to forgo my Holiday Open House, which led to the decision not to pull out any of the holiday decorations that made the trek from Inner Circle. However, with two cute and pre-lit trees on hand I was motivated to clear/clean spots because these trees weren’t the only gifts received for the season.
Only four pieces of furniture from my former living room do I plan to keep (brought sofa and loveseat, but will replace): a floor lamp, brass coffee table, blue sofa table, and fabric bench. It’s really eerie how my mother’s items fit so well in this house. I originally had planned to take the blue table upstairs, but per my father’s suggestion it fits perfectly in the dining room; a perfect complement to my kitchen cabinets. It will be a great buffet station when I start entertaining.It is also the perfect home for Bethany’s tree and gathering spot for my Christmas gifts received from Diane Sphar of Ohio Travel Treasures (box), my neighbors across the street (sweet treats), and the light globe that cast holiday images in rotating colors from Carolyn Wallace.
Patty’s tree was narrow enough to fit on the mantle of the fireplace which was in pretty rough shape. I’ve done nothing to it since purchasing the house other than vacuuming the heavy dust and debris when needed. Hard to capture in pictures, but at some point people curved in the face of it and there were a few gouges. Patty’s tree gave reason to finally address it, so I employed the same technique I used to restore two of my doors by cleaning the surface with denatured alcohol and steel wool, followed by a coat of Restor-a-Finish.
In my door refinish blog I stopped with these two steps, but they were done so long ago that already they seem dry and dull. Restor-a-Finish states to NOT add poly on top of their product, so I saw in Home Depot Watco Rejuvenating oil and decided to try that. After it dries for 72-hours they recommend adding a wax coat, which I may try later, but for now that mantle looks pretty darn good given the wear and tear it’s taken. The carvings blend at a distance.
Joining Patty’s tree is another gift from Ohio Travel Treasures, the Believe in the Magic of Christmas sign, and a beautiful glass snowflake ornament, Swakovski Annual 2018 edition, given to me by my friend Kim Lukin. I think Kim has posted the most comments on my blog.
Thanks to all for helping to make my first Christmas Merry and Bright!
Tom is THE MAN! I prefer to write post that show certain projects from start to finish, but in this case I was too excited to wait. The built-in that I saved is going to be absolutely gorgeous when it’s all finished. Tom has made my vision for restoring this piece come to life.
For those that remember my Armed with 2 PB&Js, Vitamin Water and Gatorade post you know my house had a built-in that stood in the way of my open concept kitchen/dining room. I loved the piece; it was one of the many cool elements that made me fall instantly in love with my house, so without question it was going to be saved and relocated.
Once freed the cabinet was going to be located next to the refrigerator, which means that the left side of it will be exposed. The sides weren’t meant to be shown (hence the word built-in), so they were not pretty. For months I stewed over what to do until I received an email from the Wooden Nickel, which showed a picture of a pine hutch they had for sale (now sold). I went to see it in person and the idea was born. I decided to take strips of wood and frame the sides, like you see on the hutch.
Now a normal person (I’m not normal) would just nail on four strips of wood. I wanted it to look original, intentional, so I wanted the inside edge to have the same profile as the doors. This is the same profile I put on my kitchen cabinets and master vanity. This built-in was really the inspiration behind many of my design choices, so I had to make her right.
Before I moved I got my former neighbor to help me rip down in thickness and width new pieces of pine I bought from Home Depot. I purchased a router bit that would give me the rounded affected from the doors and he used his router to add the profile. I bought a router last year and it’s still in the box. Now was not the time for a crash course. One thing I learned through my floor restoration is that new wood will not stain the same as old wood. Then I remembered I had a supply of old pine planks given to me by my friend Joan.
Her wood was covered in a thick, shellac like, coating, but Tom, the Man, Milfeld was able to run it through his planer (my next tool investment) and use my router bit to create the same strips, but with old pine. My friend’s building is about 50 years older than my house. He completely understood what I was going for, so while I unpacked more boxes, he got to work attaching the strips to the sides of the cabinet.
Now it’s up to me to get her across the finish line. I’ve got to get the tile work finished on the first floor bathroom, but I’m biting at the bit to get her finished. I still have a few more surprises to share in the final reveal, so stay tuned.
A good chunk of boxes were emptied out this week with the installation of shelves in my kitchen pantry and 1st floor bathroom linen closet. But first was the completion of the install of my closet organizing system by Closets By Design. I had so much going on when this young man was doing his work that I didn’t get any pictures during the process of the install.
Closets by Design had to make two trips. The first was actually the day after Thanksgiving. The bulk of the work, which allowed me to hang clothes was completed that day. However, they did not complete the molding in all areas of the closets. I assumed they would, given nothing existed previously. They assumed I had planned to install my own. Assumption just kill a project. Biggest lesson I’ve learned this year, ASSUME NOTHING!!!!!
A quick call after he left and an agreement to pay an additional $200 resulted in my closet (minus the door) being the first completed room in the house (paint and molding).
I’m a repeat and happy customer. Love my closet. I can’t believe how quickly I filled the rods. I still need to fill the drawers, but for the most part I can walk around my master bedroom without maneuvering around boxes now.
My new favorite carpenter, Tom, returned to help me put the shelving units in my kitchen pantry and 1st floor bath. I bought similar units installed by Closets by Design from Home Depot. The young man actually gave me a few tips about anchoring the panels to the walls, which proved super helpful and made the project a breeze, especially with Tom’s help.
For the bathroom I purchased 15 3/4″ each pre-drilled and non-drilled units. The bathroom proved to be a bit more of a challenge. This was the first closet I framed without my father and I didn’t come close to getting it square. Tom had to add a 1″ wide filler on one side just so the shelves could be cut straight. Black and White Inspirational is the theme for that bathroom. I found some really cool peel and stick wall paper on Wayfair.com, O’Shaughnessy Dream Big Script, that I used to line the shelves. It will also be used in my medicine cabinet project.
I really need to get working on restoring doors, doors, doors.
I found another great tradesman/finish carpenter, Tom Milfeld, and in the nick of time. My kitchen cabinets were delivered on Monday, November 12 and I was moving in on the 17th. In addition to having great skills, he is an absolute DELIGHT to work with. He has allowed me to be his assistant saving me money and I’ve learned some great tips on replacing floor boards, cutting with a circular saw, etc. that I’ll put to good use.
Kitchens and bathrooms sell houses, so thanks to all the sweat equity employed on this project by me, friends, and family, I was able to design the kitchen and master bath of my dreams. The HGTV 2017 Urban Oasis kitchen had blue cabinets, so that’s when I first started thinking of painted vs. stained. I grew up with brown, wood, cabinets and definitely wanted something different. I did not select the same shade of blue they used, Benjamin Moore Van Deusen Blue HC-156, because I was not going completely custom. Instead I selected Sherwin Williams Naval, the stock color offered by Shiloh Cabinetry, the builder of my kitchen cabinets. I carried the Naval into the master bath vanity made by Homestead Furniture. They matched it as close as possible, so not a custom color.
The bathroom vanity was tackled first. I utilized my Walabot gadget to locate the studs. I totally forgot my father and I had installed wood blocks in between each stud in anticipation of my floating vanity. Tom’s measurements and cutting out of plumbing fixture holes were exact. We placed a temporary support beam on the short wall, which greatly aided in hanging this very heavy cabinet.
I love the trough sink I found on Build.com. I will lack counter top space, but since my drawer/storage space has quadrupled from what I’ve had over the last 4 decades I’ll work around that. Sherwin William’s coordinating color system on their website really makes it looks like I know what I’m doing from a design perspective. The Icycle and Pacer White are perfect complements to the vanity.
For as many bad contractor experiences I’ve had, there have been equally good ones and another noteworthy one is Ohio Valley Solid Surfaces. I am a repeat customer of theirs as I worked with them when I replaced the Formica counter tops with Corian at my former house over 15 years ago. I also purchased remnant granite tops for my two full bathrooms about 6 years ago. Their crew arrived the morning of November 12th promptly and the quickly unloaded my much-anticipated blue cabinets. I had priced my cabinets through Pease Home Improvement, but went to Ohio Valley Solid Surface for my counter tops as I hoped to luck up and find another remnant slab. I was able to find a remnant piece of soap stone that I will use as the top for the built-in. Turns out they were also a dealer for Shiloh Cabinetry and their price came in $600 under Pease, so with the help of Emily Womble they became my one stop shop for kitchen cabinets and counters.
The process for hanging cabinets was simpler than I thought and my house only presented one wall that wasn’t square enough to the point you see a slight gap between the wall and cabinet. The style of my doors intentionally matches the doors on the built-in I saved and will eventually relocate back in the kitchen. My doors are inset (again like the built-in), so it was very important that the cabinets be level or they would not open and close properly.
I love the soft close feature and wish I had splurged and had them added to my vanity. They were standard with Shiloh Cabinetry and would have added $350 to cost of vanity. The goal was to get the cabinets hung by Friday, November 16, the day Ohio Valley would return to measure for the counters. I have totally snoozed on his name, but the same gentleman that installed my Corian counters at Inner Circle, came and took the measurements. I think employee longevity is a testimony of a good company. By meeting the November 16 measurement deadline, I was guaranteed to only live without counters for a week after my move-in.
One of the fortunate outcomes of self-funding this project was that at the time I ordered the cabinets I didn’t have the money for the counter tops. Cabinets were a 6-8 week lead time whereas the counters were only a week, so I had time to find more funds. If I had placed the order with the cabinets I would have gotten Silestone’s Pietra (sample B). It has blue and grey swirls and was the top vote getter by people attending my house blessing gathering.
When I had to finally commit, Emily shared with me some new options of overstock slabs they had on hand. Selecting one of them could save me about $900, so I took a serious look. Yes, I loved saving the money, but I actually think the Neve Corian Quartz I ultimately selected for the kitchen looks far better installed than what my original choice would have. It’s almost marble like, less busy, and oh so elegant looking. In the master bath I was able to select another overstock slab, sample A above, Ceasarstone Misty Carrera. The sample was honed (non-shiny), which is what I wanted, but the overstock piece was shiney. Again to save the money I made the change. I didn’t go with one stone for both, despite both being blue, because upstairs needed something that would coordinate with the hexagon tile I laid for the tub. Misty Carrera had a brown undertone to it whereas the Neve had a grey. The Misty Carrera is on the vanity, but it will also be the bench and ledge for the shower.
The same crew, plus one, that delivered the cabinets did the counter tops and as with the delivery they were punctual in their arrival and efficient in their install.
Ten days after moving in I was able to stop relying on the basement utility sink with the addition of the faucets. On the first floor my goal has been to maintain the original charm of the house, sticking with decor reminiscent of a 100 year old house. I went with a bridge faucet and stainless steel farmhouse sink. Ohio Valley crew drilled the holes exactly where I wanted them, but in retrospect I should have put a little more distance between faucet and sprayer.
The master bath is all about modern luxury. I wanted the faucets for the tub, shower and sink to match. I bought all my bathroom fixtures in March, so I’m long past the window to return even though they just got installed. Unfortunately my faucet has the wrong reach for the sink.
The vessel sink version of the same faucet reduced the reach by 2″, but is an inch taller. Signature Hardware gave me a 50% discount on it for not being satisfied with the first one, but sadly the flow rate on this faucet is half of what the original faucet provided. I probably would have been happy with it if I had not bought the first faucet. Now I have four faucets I don’t like the function of. My plumber took the aerator from the original faucet and placed on one of new. It worked fine, so I contacted Signature Hardware and was sent new aerators.
Once the new ones were installed the new faucets worked fine, but the list of problems with Signature Hardware’s products are growing. This will be the last project I’ll do and use their product. Highly disappointed.
In addition to the faucet mishaps their pop-up drain I purchased for the first floor bath tub and master sink failed to hold water. You should be able to see some pieces of metal in a cross shape at the bottom of the drain pictured on the left, but they broke off when my plumber attempted to tighten it to stop the water that was gushing into the basement. He ended up replacing both with drains from Home Depot, which worked fine. Signature Hardware did agree to refund my money on the drains, but I’m petrified about connecting the master shower and tub given how poorly these performed. Water running into the basement was no big deal, but if the master tub and shower fixtures fail they’ll ruin drywall in the living room and guest bedroom.
I decided to rename this blog 2 out of 10 instead of the original 8 out of 10 for fear people wouldn’t read to bottom and think I was happy with their performance. Selecting them stands as the worst decision I made on the entire project.
Bob and Trish Roland of Roland Hardwood restored the floors in the house I looked at on Henshaw before purchasing mine. The person that hired them was very pleased with their work and since I saw a before and after, I contacted them about restoring my floors when the original company I had lined up could not get to me until January. When I first contacted them I thought I was closing on Dec 6, so with the change to Nov 19 it was crucial the week they set aside for me (Nov 5-9) go off without any hitches.
The pine floors in my house (entire master area, kitchen, hall, office and guest bedrooms) are actually sub-floors. The kitchen and hall was covered in worn out linoleum that I pulled up during demo. Several people and some online research I did told me I could make the pine my actual flooring, so that has been the plan for over a year. Bob and Trish thought so also during their estimate walk through. Boy that tune changed by the end of the job. If any of the pessimism that came out during their actual work had surfaced during the estimate walk-through I would not have selected them.
I requested they start upstairs as I still had to finish clearing out the first floor and I was still trying to get the painting finished. They were fine with that.
The smell of pine and CEDAR filled the air and when I saw the floors after the first pass with their sanders I was so excited. Finding cedar in the back of my longest storage closet was a huge surprise. That is going to be the perfect closet to store my seasonal clothes. I will get some cedar oil to treat and preserve it now that it has been revealed.
On day one, reality was right on par with my expectations. Trish poured a little water on the floor to let me see what a natural finish would look like. I liked it. What I didn’t like was the filler they were using to fill cracks and voids. It looked similar to wood putty I’ve used and from my experience this stuff does not take stain. Going natural seemed out of the question as it stood out like a sore thumb (see light patch under stain block on far right).
Bob assured me his product would take stain and Trish said by looking at an isolated area it would jump out. I needed to see the finished floor in its entirety. I wanted to stay positive, so I bought the explanations and decided to go with the natural floors (bottom square). By doing so they would put 3 coats of clear sealer on them, which I thought would be advantageous given my bathroom. They considered stain the first coat, so I would only get two coats of sealer by selecting a stain. While I couldn’t see the filled areas up close, the floors after the first coat of sealer looked amazing and I was glad I decided to go natural. I went with a satin finish, so my final, dry, floors are not this shiny.
On the first day, Bob noticed and informed me that the top stair nose was broken (see far left above). He said it looked like a fresh break and he did not remember it being that way during his estimate walk through. In the beginning I thought he was just joking around, but he consistently harped on me for not saving the broken piece as he could have simply mended the break. I never had the piece and questioned if it was a fresh break as the steps were in rough shape when I bought the house and made worse during demo when we bounced two-wheel totes down them filled with plaster and lathe. Fresh or not I assumed he would replace that tread when all the other steps were replaced, so needless to say I was disappointed to see the first coat of sealer on the broken tread.
Requesting that the tread be replaced brought a great deal of tension to the job site and I started having immediate flashbacks to my negative drywall experience. It was day three and regrets were weighing in heavily. I was pleading in tears with him to not take short cuts. I told him I’d rather move my furnishings into temporary storage and delay the delivery of the cabinets and appliances vs. trying to correct floors after moving in. My pleas pretty much fell on deaf ears as they had no intentions on extending my job past the five days they allotted. Bob actually said I was stressing him out (welcome to my world) by making such a request.
While the pine floors were actually sub-floors, in the dining and living room I have oak sitting on top of sub-floor. I threw Bob for a loop with my sub-floor patch in the dining room. I told them the sub-floor was bad and explained that was why the last air duct runs had not been made when they did their estimate walk-through. I also told them I would have it fixed before they started, so the ducts would be in place. He, nor I for that matter, anticipated such a large area to be mended. I removed what was rotten as I believe in making the necessary and right corrections. A painful difference between my standards and theirs.
Bob said he had to purchase an additional $200 in flooring which I paid for, but he would not charge me any additional labor. I would have been willing to pay to ensure getting the job done correctly. He kept insisting it wasn’t about the money, but the time (time is money in my world, but ok). His patch was impeccable, but it took more time than he thought. The other area that took more time was the insertion of the 1×5 pine tongue and groove that filled the void created when we removed the wall between the dining room and kitchen. This area was not a surprise, it was discussed during the estimate. The five days they allocated included a buffer day, so the patches ate well into the buffer. He showed his frustration and at that point I knew I had entered the “drywall déjà vu zone”.
During their walk through they shared pictures of steps they had repaired with new oak treads and risers. I loved the look and decided to follow their suggestion to the tune of $1250. Since these areas would be new wood they needed to be stained as they would never match the original wood floors. It was suggested I tie the floors on the 1st floor to the stairs. I selected Early American for the treads (middle stain above) and floors (pine and oak), which is what Sherwin Williams told me was the color of my lighter wood trim. I wanted the risers to match the color of my darker trim and the center strip, so a custom color created for me by the Tri-County Sherwin Williams store was used. I’ve done a lot of stained projects and the color on my steps could have been much richer if Bob had allowed the stain to set longer or even apply a second coat, but since time was his issue that did not happen.
Changing the stairs from pine to oak also meant changing the landing at the top of the stairs to oak. Seeing how beautiful this landing turned out with the new oak stair nose really made me want the broken nose replaced with oak. In my mind that was the start of the stairs, so it did not need to stay pine and it would be acceptable to stain it even though it abutted the natural pine floor. As of the morning of the fourth day this was something that still was not guaranteed to happen. Bob painted every possible negative scenario of what could go wrong if he removed that piece and stressed it was something that could be done after I had moved in. Customer satisfaction seemed to mean nothing.
I don’t have a picture to show, but based on the filler used upstairs I had grave concerns about the kitchen floor after seeing it sanded. Tension was already high, so I went home on day four feeling dejected vs. bringing my concerns to their attention at that time. I just hoped my suspensions wouldn’t manifest. Trish sent me a picture at the end of day four. It was the only long day they spent of the project. They arrived between 9 and 10a every day and only worked until about 5p everyday except day four when they worked until about 9p (I could track their time via my alarm app). The floor looked good, but from that angle I could not see the area in question in the kitchen.
I returned early day five, last day, and went through the rear door to look at the kitchen floor. My fear actualized and I immediately sent them a text stating there was a problem in the kitchen. I had replaced boards in the worst areas, but clearly more boards needed to be replaced. I thought these areas could be filled (not with what they were using) but it was clear the floor was too worn and the sanding they did made it worse. The area in question is right in front of my sink; a high traffic area. The wood was so worn that it absorbed their poly sealer leaving the area rough to the touch.
I feared the constant traffic this area would receive would deteriorate further and quickly. In addition the areas they filled looked absolutely terrible as the stain did not take to the filler to the same depth as the wood, negating what Bob shared on day one.
As the “flooring experts” I truly felt they should have provided me with better input. It was clear more boards needed to be replaced, but they had no intentions of doing so. Bob shared that the area needed more stain due to the decay, but clearly this wasn’t a concern he felt needed addressing. He actually blamed me, stating he thought I had changed all I wanted changed. I made it clear I changed what I thought was needed, but he was the expert that should have advised differently the moment they saw the outcome of their sanding. He said I should just throw a rug over the area. When I insisted this wasn’t the correct solution he said if I wanted it repaired it would need to be scheduled at another time and at an additional expense. I was fine with the additional expense, but wanted the work done prior to my moving into the house and I was willing to cancel all deliveries and find temporary storage and housing to make that happen. They were not willing to adjust their schedule stating the project was 95% complete.
A walk through the remainder of the house revealed three additional areas of concern that unlike the kitchen I felt they should have addressed before I saw it.
During the buffing between the two coats of sealer a hole was created in an original section of the oak in the dining room. Bob called it a blowout that happens frequently when trying to restore old floors. The other two pictures were boards in the office I assumed (wrong to do with them) would have been patched vs. filled. Before they started I told them they had access to pine floor I had salvaged from upstairs. They had patched another area of pine on the 1st floor, so I was perplexed as to why they thought their filler would be acceptable in these especially when they knew I had concerns about the filler from day one. Their filler was cracking and shrinking in less than 24 hours, so clearly the void was too large for filler.
More debates ensued. Trish stormed out stating I was complaining about everything. Bob got even more frustrated and stressed. I fought back more tears. I left with no expectations that any of this would be corrected. They were hell bent on finishing at the scheduled time and at the sacrifice of properly restoring the floors, in my opinion. Despite my concerns they had expectation of final payment at the completion of the final coating and not my final inspection. Since I would not be able to walk through the house after they applied the final coat for at least 24 hours I asked to be called approximately 30 minutes prior to the start so I could see the completed stairs and installation of the reducers and thresholds. I knew at that point a threat to hold back payment was useless and actually jeopardize getting the remaining work done correctly. Drywall flashbacks had fully manifested.
To my absolute shock and joy all three areas I questioned AND the top stair nose had been repaired by the time I returned. They charged an additional $150, but it was money well spent. Bob’s patches were far superior to any I had or could do. The stairs and the patches showed they were capable of doing quality work, which is why their decision to not fix the kitchen was so difficult to accept. If they had just been willing to work late an additional night or two or give me one additional day this posting could have had a far different outcome.
The 8 out of 10 referenced in my title is something Bob kept saying to me during the debate over the kitchen floor. 8 out of 10 of their customers would be happy with the floor given where it started. Well this 2 out of 10 customer was not, so the Monday following the completion of their work instead of hanging kitchen cabinets I had 8 of the worse boards replaced by Tom Milfeld, the person that was going to help me install the cabinets. I have applied the stain and one coat of sealer to the patch, but after only two weeks of living in the space the entire kitchen needs another coat, maybe more.
Their unwillingness to correct a 6’x6′ section in the kitchen has forever soured my decision to select them to do the work and brings into question all the work they did. I really don’t know if they truly applied two coats of clear sealer on the first floor or three in the master. I do know I had to cover my cold air returns on the first floor as they did not do it after telling me they would. They started the sanding without covering them jeopardizing my new HVAC system. The transition strip between the dining and kitchen could have been darker, if they allowed the stain to sit longer on the new pine. To add further insult unless I sand it down and re-stain it I will have a forever reminder of them as they each left their shoe prints in the stain. There is no excuse for that.
In retrospect I should have left the pine natural on the first floor and only stained the oak. The cabinets are now installed and the pine floors on the first floor are already showing wear. I believe all the floors should have gotten three coats of sealer, at least, possibly more given their age and abuse over the years. During our stormy debates Bob pointed out that the floors had been severely neglected and if it were his house he would have put down new flooring. This was a complete turnaround from his estimate walk through when he shared they had restored worse.
No, I didn’t need new floors. I just needed a flooring refinisher that could accept constructive criticism and be more concerned with doing the job right than sticking to a schedule.
I’ve had a functioning toilet in the basement for several months, but my only access to water had been my outdoor faucet and garden hose. In the warmer months that worked fine, the first bucket was actually warm water. However with the colder temps and the need to clean paint brushes/rollers it was time to get my cement utility sink functioning.
The concrete sink was original to the house; most likely made in 1924 by the same company that made my first floor tub, the Crane Co. This stamp was on the bottom. It is a two basin, solid concrete sink and as with all the other plumbing in the house the faucet and pipes had been stolen. It sat on a rusty, broken metal stand and it’s really a wonder why it had not crashed to the ground on its own accord.
The drain holes for each side met and emptied in the center via a metal piece that was rusted and taped to a rubber hose that pointed towards a drain in the basement floor. When I removed the tape and hose, so that I could connect it to my plumbing the metal piece broke off. I took these pictures and the broken piece to several plumbing stores and everyone told me the sink could not be fixed. The construction of those sinks was such that the metal drain was actually set in the concrete itself. Bust it up with a sledgehammer and buy a plastic utility sink was the consistent advice.
The restorer in me couldn’t accept that, so not to be deterred I started doing Internet searches on vintage concrete sinks. It led me to sites of modern, slot drain sinks. These sinks took a long linear trough like pan and
attached it underneath the sink to capture all the water that fell through the slot of the sink, like this one shown to the left. The pan had a hole in the center that connected to the plumbing. With that my idea to salvage my sink was born. All I needed to do was find a drain that would cover both holes in my sink, something approximately 7″ x 7″ in size.
Further searches led me to an Oatey Floor-Mounted Utility Sink with 3-Inch Socket, which I was able to order from Amazon. The opening measured 12″ x 12″ with a height of 9.25″. The height I hadn’t wrestled with in my mind, but the opening I knew would be perfect. With help I got the sink lowered off its crumbling stand onto a skid upside down. From there the experiment began.
I took a stiff brush and scrubbed the bottom to ensure a clean surface for the JB Weld 2-part epoxy I purchased to attach the drain to the sink. I don’t think it was needed as there were no cracks that went completely through the sink, but for added measure I
bought a quart can of Flexi-Seal (late night TV infomercial got me) and painted the underside and back also. Now all I needed was help to get it set back up on its new stand, which was made for me by my real estate agent’s daughter, Anna Petersen.
She is a welder/artist and operates out of a shop in Camp Washington less than a mile from my house. I wish I could have been at her shop when she was making it, but my schedule didn’t jive with hers. Fortunately she documented the process for my blog.
The original stand had bolts at each weld point, so I did add those as an added precaution given the weight of the sink. I also addressed the height of the drain by having Anna make the new stand taller.
Having a functioning sink came at the right time given this is what I had to brush my teeth for the first 5 days of living in my house. It was also nice to be able to wash my hands and not just rely on hand sanitizer or Clorox Wipes when needed.
Anna is available for other welding projects and can be contacted via email at email@example.com. We will connect again when I get ready to make the desk for my office out of dried wood slabs of trees I cut down from my backyard.