Home Renovation Hades

Man, I can’t remember my last blog post. February I think. Much is going on here at Green World.

First of all, Hubby and I are totally caught up in a whirlpool of home repair and renovation. We don’t do the work ourselves, but dealing with estimators and contractors, researching options, and running to the store to make choices takes up my day.

So far, we have had new sidewalks poured at the side and front of the house to fix dangerously lifted slabs, a trip accident waiting to happen. And we have had the deck repaired, but it STILL hasn’t been sanded and stained.

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This is the new walkway on the south side of the house, and the new redwood fence built by our new neighbors to the south. Our gardener pruned back the jade plants.  I may do something else here, like put in some vertical planters made of old wood pallets (using heat treated, not chemically treated, wood). I might plant some pink jasmine along the fence. I’m also thinking of building a trellis shade structure to shade my office window, the first window along the house. We definitely need a new gate. I think I can build one out of redwood and 2x4s. Which brings me to my next topic: woodworking.

Our garage work area with three new Lou-made drawers in the workbench shelves.

Our garage work area with three new Lou-made drawers in the workbench shelves.

I have taken up wood working. I don’t know why. I guess I have been inspired by Ali’s work on Henbogle and am stumbling along in her footsteps. And then there is Tool Girl. What a cool nickname. I wanted to be a Tool Girl too. But I really blame this new hobby on my garden.

Two years ago, my husband built me some beautiful raised beds out of redwood at the community garden. Construction work was going on all over the garden, so he borrowed a cordless drill to build it. Then stupid Southern California Edison made us remove all raised beds, and I had to disassemble them. I needed a cordless drill. Didn’t own one. Off to Home Depot I went. I didn’t know a thing about power tools, but there was a whole box of Ryobi power tools on sale: drill, circular saw, reciprocal saw, and shoplight, with two batteries and a charger. And it came with a cool carrying bag. How could I pass that up?

This is one of the raised beds that I built for the front yard. Parsley, chard, and flowers are pretty much hiding the wood.

This is one of the raised beds that I built for the front yard. Parsley, chard, cauliflower, cabbage, garlic, flowers and shadows are pretty much hiding the wood.

Well, now I had a drill, two saws, and a lot of nice redwood, so I decided to build stuff. The first project was three raised beds in the front yard, since my tiny back yard is already filled with fruit trees, chickens, and three raised beds. The next project was to build an outdoor plant shelf out of scrap wood from the neighbor’s home renovation project. The low shelves (plant stands) will keep my potted plants off the deck.

Wood Magazine 2013

Wood Magazine 2013

Then I saw this magazine at Home Depot. Look at that cute little tool cart for the workshop. I don’t know why, but that thing spoke to me. I just loved it. I wanted to build it! Keep in mind that I have NO woodworking experience, just a bunch of tools that I had no idea how to use.

My next door neighbor was kind enough to show me how to use a circular saw. I cut the lumber to make my plant shelves (one is assembled, two more to go, none are painted yet).  At that point, I decided that my skills were not up to making the little tool bench on casters, so I decided to make box drawers to go into my existing tool bench. The directions said that the tool cart with all those drawers could be made in a weekend, so how hard could a mere four drawers be? Hahaha!

Step 1 was to build a box drawer with cut-out handle.

Step 1 was to build a box drawer with cut-out handle.

I am now on week 3 of the project and am building fourth drawer. One weekend, my fat fanny!

The box drawers have cut out handles in front and back so i can pull a given box out to get to what is stored inside.

The box drawers have cut out handles in front and back so i can pull a given box out to get to what is stored inside.

Here is a drawer slid out to reveal the contents.

Here is a drawer slid out to reveal the contents.

I hadn’t been able to reach the back of the shelves before because they were so deep (and I’m short, with arthritic knees). Now access is no problem.

I plan to fill the drawer seams with wood putty, and either put on a light stain or oil or polyurethane or something. Like I said, I have no woodworking experience, but I think there should be a finish of some kind on them.

My time recently has been spent in the garage, making sawdust, and turning perfectly nice boards into distressed wood products with nicked and mismatched edges and boogered-up corners. Hey, it’s a hobby!

But wait, there’s more. We are also in the process of interior home renovation. And when I say “we”, I mean contractors. We have had a new shower door put into the guest bath, and new bathroom faucets installed in the master and guest baths. That will hold the bathrooms for now.

On to the KITCHEN. I have have had “range envy” ever since Ali at Henbogle got a five-burner range with convection oven. Lust, lust.

Meet Big Bertha, our new GE range.

Meet Big Bertha, our new GE range.

Turns out that problem was easily solved. I bought a new range. Our old oven was haunted. The darn thing would beep in the middle of the night, waking us up at 2 pm and asking us to turn it on. Sometimes the oven would turn itself on, which of course is dangerous. We had had it with that possessed beast. We replaced it with this beauty, which sadly sticks out farther than the old one. The kitchen drawers won’t open all the way now. ARG!

Our current kitchen with new stove in place.

Our current kitchen with new stove in place.

Home Depot is solving the problem by refacing our old cabinets and giving us all new drawers, new cabinet doors, and new countertop, plus some custom cabinetry.

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I may try to salvage these pantry doors by building a cabinet for the garage and using these doors. Seems a shame to just shred and compost them.

I may try to salvage these pantry doors by building a cabinet for the garage and using these doors. Seems a shame to just shred and compost them.

We have a new stainless microwave-hood combo, but were told to not install it until after the cabinet work is done. So here it will sit until the cabinet work is finished.

We have a new stainless microwave-hood combo, but were told to not install it until after the cabinet work is done. So here it will sit until the cabinet work is finished.

We chose natural maple for the cabinets and drawers. But this isn't the style. We went with double Shaker, which will go with the Craftsman theme of our family room.

We chose natural maple for the cabinets and drawers. But this isn’t the style. We went with double Shaker, which will go with the Craftsman theme of our family room.

This is our Craftsman/Mission/Shaker family room furniture.

This is our Craftsman/Mission/Shaker family room furniture.

We painted two walls of the family room a light green and hung a mirror and some  Audubon prints.

We painted two walls of the family room a light green and hung a mirror and some Audubon prints.

 

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This is an example of the craftsmanship of the drawers that we are getting. They have chamfered (rounded) edges, dove-tailed corners, and are made of solid maple. The insides of the drawers are going to be fabulous.

We wanted a quartz (Silestone) countertop, but couldn’t find a pattern that we both liked. We compromised on Corian in Platinum, which is gray with white speckles like granite. We are getting coved corners on the countertop and back-splash, a no-drop edge, and a built-in sink of white Corian. None of those features were available in quartz. It should look gorgeous.

Ah, but the cabinet guys don’t do plumbing. They will leave us with a sink that is not connected to the drains. And since the tile with a subsurface is being replaced by Corian with no subsurface, the countertops will be lower.

We were told that it would take 4-6 weeks to get the cabinet work done. Then 6-8 weeks. They claim that it will take only three days once they start. HA. If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you. And thus we enter Home Renovation Hell. Maybe we will have the kitchen back to functional by mid May.

Meanwhile, the garden harvests continue. Last week, I harvested:

13 oz Navel Orange

1 lb 4 oz Meyer lemon

5 oz Bell Pepper (in February! Can you believe it?)

11 oz Cauliflower

TOTAL

3 lbs 1 oz of produce, plus 21 EGGS

If you had a harvest, visit Daphne’s Dandelions to share the good news.

About Lou Murray, Ph.D.

I'm a professional writer/photographer, avid gardener, and active environmentalist living in southern California. I am retired from writing a weekly newspaper column on environmental topics in the Huntington Beach Independent, but I am still teaching at the Orange County Conservation Corps. This blog chronicles my efforts to live a green life growing as much food as possible for my husband and myself on a 4,500 sq ft yard that is covered mainly by house, garage, driveway, and sidewalks.
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12 Responses to Home Renovation Hades

  1. Bob Granger says:

    You inspire me Lou!

  2. Norma Chang says:

    When all the projects are completed your home, inside and outside would be just gorgeous and inviting.
    I went for the built in white corian sink because I liked the look and am now regretting. Turns out corian is a soft material that dents and chips easily drop a sharp object in the sink and bingo, a dent. That’s why corian can be coved and other materials cannot. Hope I am not putting a damper on, but thought I would mention in case the sales person did not say anything. I wish I knew.

    • Hmm, Norma, that is interesting about the Corian. We have Corian sinks in both bathrooms and the wet bar. It is 30 years old and looks great. I am hoping to have equally good luck with a kitchen sink. We will see.

  3. Daphne says:

    I grew up in a house where we learned to do all that DIY stuff. Of course now I so rarely do it. I usually hire someone to do it for me. Those circular saws scare me. Just don’t tell my dad. He would laugh at me.

  4. Bee Girl says:

    Man…you have been very busy!!! How fantastic to get so much done around the house! I love that you’re using your tools and learning how to use new ones! I really should jump on that but I usually play more of a supporting role when it comes to building 😉

  5. Oh, it’s a slippery slope. First a cordless drill, next you know you’re lugging around a compound miter saw on it’s own anti-gravity stand 😛 It is so much fun though to build things, and to have the right tools for the job!

    I must admit, I’ve never heard of a haunted stove, but we used to have a spiteful one. I was so happy to jettison that thing from my kitchen before it killed me in my sleep 😛

    I love your new cabinet doors, and solid wood drawers are a definite bonus. So many cabinet makers like to cheap-out these days. It’s nice to see some quality craftsmanship!

    • Clare, my router arrived, but it seems that I now need a router table. You are right, this is a very slippery slope indeed. I can hardly wait until my kitchen is remodeled. They guys should be here in another 2-3 weeks.

  6. leduesorelle says:

    I’m in awe of the work (and newly acquired skills) you’ve accomplished in very little time! The results are lovely. We’re in the design phase of what we expect will be be a major renovation, and know there are many trips to Home Depot in our future… 😉

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