Thursday, May 24, 2012

It's Electric!

Up to this point the progress that we have made has mostly been superficial- painting, moving furniture around or getting boxes unpacked. (Yes, we are STILL unpacking boxes!) But we knew the first big project that had to be tackled was the kitchen. It's not just that it has horrible blue cabinets or icky yellow striped wallpaper- we would really, REALLY like to have a dishwasher. I spend more time doing dishes (and laundry) than anything else. There also is little usable storage in this kitchen so we have been saving our pennies and trying to figure out where to start.
When we met with our contractor back in January (when we had hoped to get the dishwasher installed) we discovered a few things. There was no room in the electrical panel to add the dishwasher not to mention we only had 100 amp service so that really should upped to 200 amp as well. We also found more pipes that were visibly corroding and would need to be replaced. We knew we had no water pressure- But when you have no water pressure, trying to fill a dishwasher will take FOREVER. So we are pretty sure that since we still have all galvanized pipes downstairs that they are most likely corroding on the inside as well. As we won't even talk about our teeny, tiny hot water supply line for the kitchen. I think it's only about a half an inch?

All of these things had to be addressed before we could even think about cabinets and installing the dishwasher. Old houses may have charm and ours has quite a bit but it was poorly maintained so we are going back to the basics! We decided there would be 3 phases to our kitchen remodel to keep us sane and a minimum of people here at one time. Phase 1- Electrical. Phase 2-Plumbing.  Phase 3- Cabinets, counter tops, etc. 

Phase 1 is almost complete. The electrician has been here working his tail off trying to get our electrical straightened out. When we moved in we were faced with this.

A pushmatic panel that they don't make anymore and apparently some insurance companies won't insurance a house if they have one of these because they are known not to work properly. Awesome. Not. That has been upgraded to a new shiny panel with lots of spots to add things.

We also had this:

Which is the old fuse box that was being used a junction box. Doesn't look so good does it? Our electrician is working on removing as much knob and tube wiring from the basement and rewiring just about everything he can get his hands on so this will be empty by the time he's done. Woo hoo! I feel safer just knowing that. We are going to have him come back and do the upstairs eventually but we really want to get moving on the kitchen first.

I wanted to show you our first REAL step in pushing the kitchen to how we want it to look. There was an issue with the wiring for the ceiling fixture and the electrician had to rewire it. I figured if he was taking the wobbly, horrible ceiling fan down, it made no sense to put it back up when we wanted something new for in there anyway!  Here is the ceiling fan that was here when we moved in- as wobbly as it was I was afraid it was going to fall on me. The electrician agreed.

Yuck. That is all I can say. I know a ceiling fan in a kitchen sounds a little strange but there isn't much of a breeze even with the windows open so it helps so much! And don't forget there is no A/C in these old houses. I wanted something rustic looking to replace it with. That wasn't happening after driving to Lowe's AND Home Depot. Then I went to the A to Z Vacuum and Fan Outlet on Penn Ave in West Reading. It's about 2 blocks from our house. I could customize a fan and it was about the same price as the fan I bought at Home Depot and ended up having Matthew return. A to Z had an awesome light fixture but not the right size and color fan to match. It looked like an old Coleman gas lantern. It would have been great but after I thought about it I wasn't upset because that particular light fixture only had 1 light so it wouldn't have been very bright. What we ended up with is this:
I love the wrought iron looking detail in the center and it is a striking difference from the old fan. It is our first step in an actual design decision in this space and is a good indication of the feel I am looking for in here. Are you loving the wallpaper in the background? I'm not! We are still trying to figure out if the soffit is coming down or not so I am not spending the time on it until we know for sure.

So our first step is wrapping up tomorrow (Supposed to be at least) and I have a plumber coming in to give us an estimate early next week. The thought of actually having water pressure makes me giddy!

I got the curtains made for the kitchen as well and I think they are a good jumping off point for the colors we want to use in here. We only have 1 tiny window in the kitchen but there is a window by the back door and the upper half of the back door is glass as well so I made 3 matching curtains. I didn't have a choice other than making them since all the windows are different sizes but I think they turned out rather well.

Above the sink:
 The window by the back door:
 The back door:
I still have to switch out the twine on the back door for jute twine. They offer us a little more privacy and also protection from the sun in the afternoon when in comes in the back because it can be BLINDING.

 I am pretty excited and ready for phase 2!

Aleena wanted me to let you know the benefit of having a new ceiling fan installed.

The packing gives you a really fun stuffed animal holder. She literally carried this around the whole afternoon. Up and down the stairs and everything.

I will keep you updated on what happens next!

See you soon!


Wednesday, May 9, 2012


I know I went MIA but right after I posted last time we went into a rough couple of days of a nasty virus. The kids were at least kind enough to take shifts to throw up instead of all doing it at the same time. I have no desire to do that again anytime soon. It took us a while to get back on our feet.  So I am back (hopefully) and can start updating you as to what I have been working on.

I really think the foyer sets the tone for your whole house. It is the first room someone sees when they come in the door and I really want people to feel welcome at our house! I am going to post the before pictures(all the ones I can find at least). This has been a looong project. Since we moved in I have been working on things and it's still not done but I am finally to a point where I feel ok in sharing it. That being said, let's go back to how we first saw it.

I am terrible at taking before pictures and I promise to work on that! Here are some where we are now.

What have we done?

Out with the blue carpet. (it was SOOO dirty and stained and had to go!)
Refinished the floors
Painted over the orange/peachy beige
Found some furniture that we LOVE!
Out with the plaid valances and hung curtains we already owned.
Hung some of our own pictures and artwork.

On our To Do list:

Get the dishwasher out of the corner!!!
Install the light fixture (also in the corner, on top of the dishwasher) I purchased for in here
Get a rug

After the short To-Do list that is left I will feel pretty good about calling it done for now. We had a rug in here but it was one that Matt brought home from Afghanistan and the kids and animals were doing a number on it so we decided we needed something else. I ordered one from Overstock so when it gets here I will update the pictures to show you! You might be wondering what happened to the other chairs that were supposed to be in here? These beauties:

I painted them but wasn't still wasn't really feeling them and couldn't motivate myself to make the slip covers. Last week  I popped in the Salvation Army and I literally stopped in my tracks when I saw the ones that you see in the pictures now. They were exactly what I had been looking for in the first place and they were only $40 for the pair. I had to get out the Bissell Little Green and clean them up but we just love them!

A sneak peek as to what my current project is:

Banishing the rest of the orange paint from the downstairs!!! Yay! We felt a huge difference after the orange was gone from the foyer that we pushed painting the living room a little higher up the project list.  I have a couple of furniture pieces that I would love to be working on but it's been too cold and rainy to mess with them. We also have an electrician coming (hopefully this week) to start converting us to 200 amp service and upgrading our circuit breaker which needs to be the first step in getting ready to eventually install the dishwasher. SO EXCITED!! We are still a ways off from that but we are pushing in the right direction.

Fingers crossed I'll see you soon!