Thursday, June 13, 2013

Kitchen Project -- Take Eight: a.k.a. Making Progress

Things are coming along slowly but surely for our kitchen.

The cabinets have been installed. The molding is almost finished. The countertops are in. The electrical is done. The sink is hooked up and the dishwasher is, too. We even have a working microwave again.

Still to do: finish the backsplash, add bottom molding, find window treatments...

We've come a long way from the demolition days that started about a month ago. We lived with boxes of kitchen utensils in the dining room. We ate off paper plates and made far too many drive-thru stops. We washed baby bottles in the bath tub.

It wasn't easy, but it was kind of fun. Here's a peek at the progress:

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Why do it yourself?

Success and failure in the area of home improvement.

 "You can fix that, right? It's not that hard." My wife's often saying things like that, but I'm always thinking it, too. So I'm also to blame for many of the projects/ideas we get ourselves into around the house.

I think:

"I could save lots of money and then amass an arsenal of tools while making countless trips to the home goods store."

"I could make that bookshelf. Why should I pay an arm and a leg for a train table made of particleboard that most likely will fall apart faster than the time it takes my crackers and milk to go soggy?"

"Busting up that floor? No problem."

It's also just what you do, right? Try to fix things, even when they're not really broken. My 3-year-old son caught that bug -- the one that gets you thinking you need to redo, fix or modify something, anything or just take it apart. All valid ways to spend time.

The good thing is that with the exception of personal safely while using power tools, sharp knives and working with electrical and some plumbing, there's no harm done. It's a house or a table, it’s OK if it’s not perfect. Tearing up a bathroom can be a bit scary but the worst thing to happen is you have to call in a contractor. Even I know my limits -- I don't do structural changes to the house without help.

So, then, why do it yourself? The answer for me is because I enjoy doing the work, working with the tools and materials. And when the project is done I get that sense of accomplishment. I also couldn't afford to get some of the work done and we own an old house that need lots of care and upkeep. We also really enjoy the design aspect of upgrading the house, imagining and planning are a big part of the fun. And now that we have it the way we like it, we'll never move. (Fingers crossed!)

What I have learned is that if the only goal was to save money by doing the work myself, it might not be worth it in some cases. Professionals offer speed and quality gained from experience. I always have to know my limits and skill level. Some projects take a lot of time -- time away from family. It works best when I want to do it for the experience and what I can learn and sometimes, yes, save money.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Kitchen Project -- Take Seven: We're Making Progress!

The cabinets are in, although the finishing work and countertops will take at least another week. And we decided on a floor. We went with a simple hardwood that matches the hardwood in the rest of our house.

We're making progress. I stayed up until 3:30 a.m. installing as much as I could -- at a certain point, I put away the power tools and opted for a handsaw and hammer so I wouldn't disturb the neighbors. There's still some work to be done, and I still need to finish the backsplash this week before the counters are installed, but I'm happy with the way the kitchen is coming together.

Here's the latest look:

A professional-grade staple gun gets it done.