13 August 2004

Granite and ranges and tiles, oh my!

Jon was right when he said things would start seeming fast--they sure have. I've been a bad blogger again/still, so I have some catching up to do.

Wednesday two of the Granite Guys came back to finish up the granite work, cutting out the bar sink, drilling faucet, airgap, and soap dispenser holes, fitting the other slabs, fitting the window sill, and gluing all of them down. Jon, meanwhile, was scraping, sanding, and staining the side pieces of the wooden fireplace frame, since the granite would be placed right over the top of them, replacing the front wooden pieces but not completely covering the messed-up side pieces. (This is too hard to explain without a martini and a lot more effort, so just look closely at the before and after pictures if you really care.)

Speaking of pictures...

New pictures!

Two and a half months

Old pictures

Before
Preparing for chaos
Demolition and chaos
One month in
Still later
Two months in
Progress!

A few hours later, while Granite Guys were getting started on the fireplace, Delivery Guys rolled up in an eighteen-wheeler to deliver the range, hood, and microwave. Of course, I couldn't be happy with a range normal humans could lift; I had to get the massive 36" Wolf complete with grill, which weighs approximately a gazillion pounds (about a jillion kilos, for my European readership) and is awkward as hell. Somehow, through, three guys and a handtruck had rolled that sucker down the street and up my steep driveway and humped it up twenty-five steps and around four corners to my frontdoor. It wasn't as awkward a shape as the massive fridge Jon and Manuel had struggled with several months ago, and they'd removed every last removable part to get the weight down, but we were still impressed at how handily Delivery Guys handled it. A dozen trips later, they'd also carried up the massive hood, the little teeny microwave, and all the miscellaneous range parts they'd set aside.

In a few more hours, Granite Guys finished up with the fireplace, and Jon sent them on their way. While they were clumping down the front stairs, though, I thought to double-check that the cover for the natural gas log starter valve doohickey (just look at the pictures, please) would fit in the hole they'd drilled in the hearth, and it didn't. I suppose it wouldn't be tragic just to leave that doohickey out of the picture, but Gjetost enjoys lifting it with her little paws and tossing it around. Jon called Granite Guy the Blonder back up. He said he'd already his largest hole-saw drill bit, but after about 15 minutes of going at it from slightly different crooked angles, he'd managed to widen it just enough to get the doohickey to fit. I'm sure Gjetost will appreciate it. The fireplace looks spectacular in granite--a tremendous improvement over the icky 1970s tile that seemed to cry out for avocado appliances and a harvest gold Princess telephone.

George didn't come in at all Wednesday; his car had crapped out despite the measures taken Tuesday. It turned out to be recall work, no charge. He hadn't gotten the recall notices, since he's moved too much. Having lived at five addresses in the last ten years (and eight home phone numbers in the last eleven), I know how that feels. There are still some orchestras sending W-2 forms to my previous address in San Francisco. I bought this project (I mean house) five years ago!

Meanwhile Wednesday, Jon finished up the kitchen floor tilework and a few other odds and ends.

Thursday I worked at the office, so I can't do blow-by-blow, but when I got home, I found a painted kitchen, a grouted floor, and some wicked impressive tile-cuts.

Oh, yes: grout. Remember my mentioning the countless details that I wouldn't have even thought of, much less gotten right? On Wednesday, Jon had brought in some grout color samples to look at, and he was recommending that we go with a dark, muddyish green. At first I was appalled. I figure the goal for grout is that it disappear in neutralness, providing just enough border to neutralize color changes from tile to tile but not to call any attention to its own color. Green grout, even the muddyish green of the sample, seemed way too colorful. I thought we should do a dark grey, like the one I'd used upstairs between the Indian Peacock slate tiles. But when we put the grout-color sample stick thingy between a couple of the Brazilian slate tiles, I could see what Jon meant: in this context, that muddy green is what disappeared. The grey I would have chosen was way too bright and colorful. I went with Jon's advice.

I was both pleased and chagrined to find upon my return home Thursday night that Jon was right. The muddy green looks great--it disappears and becomes the greyesque noncolor I wanted. Actual grey wouldn't have worked. It's really annoying, though, that Jon is right so often.

About those tilecuts: Slate tile is stone. You can only cut it with a diamond-blade in a wetsaw and a lot of patience. These suckers look like table-saws with big old cutting wheels. They're no jigsaw. So if you need weird-shaped cuts, you've got some figuring to do. I've done it, to get those funny little cutouts to go around toilets and faucets and so forth, and it ain't easy. So imagine my delight at getting to watch Jon figure out how to cut beautiful arcs to go around the curved base under the curved corner shelves. Basically you have to cut out the rough shape as well as you can, and then make little radial cuts to the edge as well as you can, break off the little chunklets, and then sort of rub the edge against the spinning blade to smooth it out as well as you can. Pain in the neck!

So Jon did several of those, and I was pretty much ready to bow down as it was. Then I come home last night and find a little stack of tiles that have rectangular cut-outs to go around the outlets, and I'm done for. I have no idea how he could fiddle around to get those right and not wanted to slash his wrists or at least mine. Look closely at those pictures of the backsplash, folks. There's some might impressive saw-work. Oh, and you can't see it, but where the tiles meet at the corners, he's mitred them, freehand, just holding the tiles at the right angle to the blade. He eye-balled bloody mitre-cuts! I can't do a decent mitre cut on a wooden baseboard with a mitre box! This man knows what he's doing.

Today, Jon did the backsplash behind the bar and along the pantry wall. Look closely at those pictures; he came up with a clever way to create a border where the backsplash stops (and figured out a priori where to stop the backsplash).

Meanwhile George installed under-cabinet lights, then put in little baseboards behind the refrigerator, dishwasher, and range. Next he started putting in the light valances (the trim bits that go under the cabinets to cover the under-cabinet lights). They're installed at a little gap from the doors for a cool floating effect.

Jon had an odd idea to install the upper trim bits (essentially these act like baseboards between the cabinets and ceiling) at a similar gap from the ceiling as from the tops of the doors for a subtle but nifty effect where all the upper cabinets seem to float near the ceiling instead of looking attached, instead of installing them flush against the ceiling, which is more normal. It's a funky little detail that I wouldn't have thought of or expected to like, and Kyla (his wife, who was over to do some computer stuff with me) didn't like it, but when we looked at it both ways, I decided to go for it. I got up on the step ladder and held the trim bits each way for Jon to look at from a distance, too, and he also preferred the gappy way. So, gaps it is. You'll have to wait a few days to see the pictures of that, because by now it was quitting time, and here I am at 8:30 finishing up on the blog and getting ready to take some reheated leftover takeout Thai up to the apartment.

4 comments:

  1. Okay, we kept wondering, "What's wrong with a '70s type fireplace. Heck that wasn't so long ago.

    But, we will concede that the new fireplace tiles and hearth are great. We'e anxious to see it (and the whole project) in real life.

    Will it be done by Thanksgiving?

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  2. What's wrong with a 70s fireplace?

    Think back to the 70s. Do you remember anything aesthetically pleasing about the 70s? I don't. I remember such aesthetic disasters as bell-bottoms, orange clothing, sideburns, big fenders; plastic buildings, plastic furniture, plastic countertops, plastic wood substitutes, plastic fabric substitutes; use of colors such as orange, avocado, and harvest gold; the list could go on and on.

    Picture the set on "The Brady Bunch," and if you can't draw the obvious conclusions about 1970s design, you probably don't have taste similar to mine.

    My fireplace was a victim of 1970s design values. Those tiles were ceramic but looked plastic. The colors were browns but not browns found in nature. The effect was anything but elegant.

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  3. Will it be done by Thanksgiving? If it isn't, there's a problem.

    Jon thinks he'll have the kitchen "functional" by the end of the week, when he leaves for a weeklong backpacking trip--that is, refrigerator, range, and sinks hooked up and working, and the cabinets ready for me to start moving stuff back in. He plans to start the rest of the tile work (foyer floor) and hardwood work (dining room and music room) when he gets back. That and any other odds and ends (such as installing cabinet handles if they arrive too late to be installed before he leaves) ought to be done within a few weeks of that.

    I hope to throw a kitchen-warming party in mid-September, but I'm not committing to anything until every last bit of work is done.

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  4. Hi Erin,

    I stumbled upon your blog today and it rang so many bells for me! I've bought a 70's bungalow in the south west of Ireland and have some great "features" to deal with - green tiled fireplace, brown bathroom suite and a kitchen that is sooooo depressing... I'm also just starting into a new business here in Ireland (being the Granite Guy at KitchenForce.com) so I found your articles on re-modeling inspirational and would value any feedback on our baby-steps in blogging..

    Thanks John

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