More kitchen demo & updates

Hey guys! This kitchen renovation is in full force around here. As promised, I’m back with a few more updates so you can follow along in as close to real-time as I can muster.

Monday night the cabinet maker… (and his assisstant? Helper? Friend? I’m not sure exactly who the other guy was. He only spoke Spanish and the extent of my Spanish is “Hola! Como estas? Muy Bien! Y too?”. <-- That's what 3 years of high school spanish will do for ya.) Okay, so Monday night the cabinet guy and his buddy came over to do a final measure for the cabinets. We had to have the entire kitchen cleared out before then, hence the frantic gutting of said kitchen over the weekend.

Can I just say I really really like this cabinet maker? His name is Armando and he runs his own little custom cabinet business. From what I can tell he works pretty much exclusively through the builder we hired, so if you want him to do your cabinets for you you have to hire the builder. He is so nice, and the more he comes over and chats the more Ben and I just like him. Super duper nice guy.

So he measured and drew out our kitchen old-school on graph paper. If you can interpret his plans, you probably will notice that the layout and plans have changed slightly from the first time I told you about the renovation. I will give an update on the new layout and ideas in another post.

Ben works hard at his real job, so he hasn’t been much help in the demo department since Sunday night. I have been pulling up the old wood flooring, and trying to do so in a clean manner so we can salvage the floor and hopefully put it on craigslist. It’s taking longer than I assumed it would though because whoever laid it glued each plank together in addition to their locking click together design. The planks are mostly coming up in one piece, but because of the glue I’m not so sure how salvageable they will be.

Yesterday afternoon the big ol’ dumpster was delivered. It was very exciting to watch and was an entire family affaire for all of us.

The driver pretty much just backed into our yard and then dumped the thing using some hydraulics from his truck. We were mesmerized and I took about 25 photos of the entire production.

The driver showed us how to open the back door, which was a nice surprise for us. I assumed we’d be lifting and dumping everything into the dumpster so we are relieved that we can just use a dolly and a wheelbarrow to move trash directly into the bin. The kids were very excited about this fun new addition to the yard, and we’ve had to remind them multiple times since then that this is not a toy.

I also want to address how we’ve been living, or more specifically eating without a kitchen to cook in. Well, it hasn’t been the easiest, and we’re only a few days into the ordeal, so I’m sure our lifestyle will evolve over the next several weeks, but for now we’ve set up a makeshift kitchen in our dining room. We moved the fridge into the dining room and set up our old microwave on a cart to use until we get it sold on CL. We also have a grill outside.

We’ve got a few non-food items on top of the piano, which has been covered by a sheet to protect it from dust. While we are chipping away at flooring or sheetrock I’ve been covering all the stuff on top of the piano with a sheet as well.

The guest bathroom in the hall has turned into our kitchen dinette area. I wash big items in the bathtub and small stuff in the sink, but we have been trying to use as few washable items as possible. I went to Costco last week and stocked up on paper plates and bowls, and plastic utensils. In case you are a detective and are squinting to see what all is in the photo, you may have noticed two coffee makers. We aren’t that obsessed with coffee – the kids use the Keurig for making instant oatmeal.

John, our builder, also stopped by yesterday to go over all the steps in the renovation. He is going to be scheduling the electrician, plumber, and framers to come out and is helping us get our countertops and flooring selected.

I was going to lower the bar to counter-height myself, but we also need a few other things framed out, so he is going to have his guys come do all this work. I chatted with him about turning the pantry door and also the door to the mud room (which we removed when we moved in) into pocket doors, and he said he’d make it happen so I am very excited about that little project as well. I have never lowered a bar, or turned a normal door into a pocket door, though I am 100% confident I could do it myself with some research and enough time. Well, there is only one of me, and I have a list a mile long of stuff I have to do, so having his framers do it all in a day makes the most sense for us. Of course, this is the plan for now before I’ve gotten a quote from the framers, so if they are too expensive my tune might change and I might be doing it all myself anyways!

On my list for today:
- Finish pulling up all the wood flooring and the underlayment
- dump all the 6 trash cans full of tile into the dumpster
- start hauling the piles of trash from behind the shed into the dumpster
- remove several large areas of sheetrock (the plumber and the propane guy need it removed before they start their work)
- get more organized with the kitchen areas and all the other random crap all over the house
- finish washing all the laundry, and then fold a total of about 10 loads that are currently in a heap on my bedroom floor
- run the kids to all their activities this afternoon
- worry about dinner
- start a post about the new layout plan

Somehow in there I also have to actually mother my children.

On my list for tomorrow:
- I don’t know. I can only think one day at a time.

I’ll try to get that post for you guys by tomorrow, but we’ll see if I have any energy left to write it. Also, when I do lots of manual labor (painting, hauling, hammering, lifting, etc), I start to get carpel tunnel in my wrists (just another fun side-effect of being pregnant 12 and 9 years ago), so sometimes after a few long grueling days of hard labor my hands are too numb to type. Hopefully that won’t be the case, but I’m already starting to feel it, so… ugh.


The multi-purpose dining room

The dining room has been a thorn in my side since we moved in. I knew moving into the house that I had no real idea for the actual use of this room. I’m grateful to have the additional space, but it’s been difficult to nail down an actual purpose for it. All I knew going in is that the piano has to be in this room. There is literally no other spot for it in the house. Because we downsized into a smaller home we also ended up with too much stuff and not enough space, so the dining room became the catch-all:

In october I went on a decrapification spree and got rid of a ton of stuff. I was able to clean out the dining room enough to have a blank slate to start with.

After 8 months of living in this space, We’ve finally figured out how we want to use the room. We want this space to be a multi-use dining room. We like the idea of having a dining room, but we still need a place for the piano. We also need a place for all my craft and office supplies since I lost my own office space in the move. And finally, we need a place for all the kids’ craft supplies and somewhere where they can spread out and do big projects, crafts, sewing, and the like. Basically, we need a dining room and a catch-all room, so we are going to combine the two.

Over Thanksgiving we went to the beach with our best friends. Well, my bestie Heather just so happens to be an amazing decorator and I seriously covet her house and style. While at the beach we spent a couple hours and a large pad of paper hashing out all the details of the dining room. We talked about every possible option, and every conceivable layout. I am so excited that we were able to brainstorm that day because the layout and ideas we came up with are so awesome! It will take some time to turn this room around while I save up the money needed for the supplies, but in the mean time I have tried to arrange some temporary furniture to get a feel for the layout.

Okay, so the plan. The plan is to move the computer into the kitchen. I will update you on that when I do a post about the kitchen.

The piano is now in its permanent location to the left of the windows. The long wall to the right of the windows will be floor-to-ceiling built-ins. They will house all the things; my office and craft supplies, the kids’ craft supplies, extra home decor, any dining room stuff such as china, extra dishes, pitchers. My kitchen doesn’t have a ton of cabinet space so I will also keep less-used items like the crockpot in these built-ins.

And finally, the dining table. I purchased the round table from Wal-Mart a few months ago. It is Better Homes and Gardens brand but unfortunately it is not on their website. I think they might have discontinued it and I bought one of the last ones. If you live in the Austin area and really love the table, there were two more left in November. It came from the Georgetown location and was $250.

Heather and I decided a round table would be awesome for this space, so I found this Wal-Mart one to use as a filler for the next few years. The ones I really want are around $1200, so I will use this cheaper one while I save up (or I might end up enlisting Ben to help me build a table at some point). However, after living with a round table for 2 months, I feel like the original plan of a round table isn’t quite working as well as I’d hoped. When I finally make a long-term table purchase I may get a narrow rectangle one so it will a) hold more people, and b) fit the space better.

Also, for the space between the table and the windows, we plan to leave that a little more open with a comfy chair tucked in there. I really like the library feel in that little space, plus I like to not have the windows blocked to allow as much light in as possible.

Am I confusing the heck out of you yet? In an attempt to allow all of this random hodge podge of info make any sense at all, I’ve created a mock up of what I hope the room will look like. I LOVE the built-ins that Thrifty Decor Chick did in her dining room turned library, so I borrowed her picture and added her built-ins to my dining room.

Seriously? Amazing. I can’t wait to get this project started! The only thing holding me back at the moment is purchasing the cabinets and wood for the built-ins. We are currently socking away any extra money we have for a kitchen renovation (I’ll give you all the details on that as soon as I have any). For now we are living with a couple bookshelves to hold some of our books and craft supplies.

The remainder of my office and craft supplies and extra home decor currently resides in our master closet. Eek. Huge mess.

Like I said in my last post, every project I have going on hinges on another project. It’s making me a little eye twitchy. I can’t make my closet more organized until I get my craft stuff out of there. I can’t get my craft stuff out of there until I build the built-ins in the dining room. I can’t build the built-ins in the dining room until after the kitchen is renovated. See my conundrum?

So for now we live like this:

Which I’ll admit isn’t really half bad. The only real issue is the lack of storage space.

While we wait on the kitchen (which hopefully will start soon – we are waiting to hear back on a few quotes) I will continue to plan and mull over every single detail of the built-ins for the dining room. Gah, I can’t get over how great this mock up looks.

Do you mull over projects for months before you start them? I do. I think, and think, and think about every small detail coming together. Once it’s all worked out in my mind, then I start the project. Right now I’m obsessing about the plug outlets, where I want to put new ones, and how the lighting in the room and in the built-ins will be laid out. Is that weird? Probably. But most of my projects don’t have too many hiccups once I start them because I’ve worked out almost every detail before I start. I’m way too Type B though to actually create a spreadsheet or anything. It’s all right up here (pointing to my head) in a jumbled mess that only I could ever possibly begin to understand. I make my Type-A-spreadsheet-loving-husband eye twitchy on a weekly basis.

Okay, way too long of a post. Sorry! I just had a huge brain dump about the dining room and it feels good to get all these random jumbled thoughts out of my head and onto paper (well, a computer screen to be exact).


Let the decrapification commence

Downsizing almost 900 square feet of living space has pretty much kicked my ass. I’m not complaining to be in a smaller home; I’m actually thrilled to be in a smaller home. Those stairs and all that space in the last house almost did me in. Too.Much.To.Clean. It was never ending. We’d spend our entire Saturday each weekend just getting the house picked up – and I’m not even talking about deep cleaning.

So yes, the smaller house with no stairs is awesomespice. The reason it kicked my ass is because I downsized 900 sq ft of living space and I have too.much.crap. This house has one less bedroom (no office for me anymore), one less bathroom, one less living room, and one less garage bay. The kitchen is smaller, the kids bedrooms are smaller. Everything is smaller. Which is great when I’m cleaning, but not so great when I’m trying to find a home for all our stuff.

Moving in left most of our rooms looking like this:

Too much stuff and no where to put it. First world problems, I know. I sound like such a brat even complaining about having too much crap. And if you can believe it, this haul is after I had a garage sale before I moved.

Honestly, if it were up to me we’d probably own very little and live in an RV. But I’m not the only one in this family. And the kids are old enough now that we really need to settle down and stay put while they work their way through middle and high school (boo, I love moving). After that though? Maybe Ben and I will backpack through Europe. Or rent a little studio apartment in Manhattan. Or buy that RV we’ve always talked about and become nomads. Ah, to dream!

More stuff and no where to put it:

Daughter’s room before we painted it and I cleaned it out:

Losing my office has been the biggest adjustment. I like decor, and I like crafty stuff, and I literally have no where to put it all.

Instead of going out and buying more storage and shelves and cabinets to hold everything that I will probably never find a use for, I abandoned any attachment to said items and started a “garage sale” pile in the garage.

The pile has grown to take up about a fourth of the garage. I’m so ashamed. Me, the self-proclaimed minimalist, has this much stuff. It is officially my “Monica closet“.

On the plus side, I can’t claim 100% of this crap. The previous owners kindly left me all the items you aren’t allowed to throw away – at least 30 cans of gross paint and a few car batteries. Thanks guys! I’m so excited that I get to deal with this. And, yes, that is just oozing of sarcasm.

In addition to all the large items, there are multiple moving boxes packed with smaller decor.

I’d rather have one large Monica Closet though than a house full of crap weighing me down. Hallelujah the place is clean!

(The piano is to the right where you can’t see it, and the drums have been relocated to the boy’s bedroom where we can’t hear them as loudly.)

The bedroom is clean now too. What a huge relief. Bedrooms are suppose to be where you go to relax, and mine just stressed me out. And OBVIOUSLY I still need to paint in here.

No more big metal shelf full of crap either. Now I have a small pile of frames that need to be hung and a few baskets. So close to being crap-free.

And the game room…

When you glance in, there’s no crap to give you hives.

I put a shelf in here for all our board games. Eventually I think I’d like to do some built-ins with doors for all this type of stuff.

Even the shelves/entertainment center are/is clean. Not really very organized or pretty, but free from the piles of crap we don’t need filling them up.

And just because I assume you are curious, here’s a view looking into the hall from the game room. That black hole is Ben’s office (haha, literally! It will suck you in and you may never escape alive!).

My sister and I are going to do a joint garage sale at her house because now that I live in the country and not a big suburban neighborhood I doubt anyone would come out here to shop in my garage. We’ve been trying to coordinate a date for a month now. Between my kids sports games each weekend and her being extremely pregnant, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to clear this pile out of my garage. We were hoping for this month, but with winter coming I doubt we’ll actually sell anything until the spring.

Before and after pictures are my favorite (I think I mention this in like every post I write?), so here they all are side-by-side. I would live in an empty house if I could. Not sure Ben or the kids would be too keen on that though.

Piano/music/computer/future-office room.


Master Bedroom:



Game room:


So, are you a minimalist or a hoarder? Or somewhere in the middle? Do you have a “Monica Closet”? Be Honest! lol Do you prefer your home packed to the gills (pretty home decor tastefully decorated included) or would you rather own less?

I prefer to own less because it makes it easier to keep everything clean. I don’t love cleaning, so I figure if I don’t own all the crap to begin with I won’t have to put it all away. I hate crap pretty much because I’m lazy and hate cleaning. It’s true.

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