Construction Update – Surviving the move and Kitchen Progress

March 31st, 2014

Okay okay, I must beg your forgiveness on not posting for the past 5 weeks. I’ve gotten emails, texts, and calls from friends and readers begging for more updates. The beat goes on, so they say, and I’ve been on quite the ride the past 5 weeks. We had to move out of our rental before the house was done. I’ll tell you right now that this is a logistical nightmare. Even more so with 2 small children and a husband who is busy finishing a house.

If you want to hear all about it… read below, otherwise, skip to the pictures of the kitchen build!

So for 3 weeks were were without stable housing. I took the boys and went and stayed with my parents for nearly a week. This was great… and not so great. They live an hour from the house build, and with so much going on, I really needed to be close by the build site. Also with limited child care available, it was nearly impossible to work. And work is kind of a priority. So the boys and I headed back to the construction site and found a hotel a few miles away. Not quite a vacation, but not terrible either, we were able to get somewhat settled in a hotel, and have our regular babysitter help with the kids (a Godsend), and I was able to work once again. With an unknown closing date, we weren’t too thrilled to be paying for a hotel for days and days. So after a week, we packed up again and headed to a friend’s house for another week. Once we got the OK to move in, I was beyond thrilled, however the excitement was somewhat dampened by the fact that Mr. Project was going on a business trip early the following morning. Not so exciting being in an empty new house with just the kids and very limited toys/clothes/cooking implements/work supplies (who needs a desk anyway??). Not to mention no furniture, TVs, INTERNET (kill me!), and towels. Needless to say there were many break-downs most of which were me, not the children. Mr. Project was gone for 2 days, and in a twist of fate, we all caught a stomach bug upon his arrival back home… luckily I had found some towels and the washer and dryer were installed before he left. Unluckily, I was pretty much down for 2 days, and Mr. Project was right there after me.

After recovering, the past two weeks+ have been spent unpacking, organizing, moving everything into the house from the garage, and of course working. So blogging has been low on the priority list. It’s also been a bit overwhelming. So many pictures to edit, and wondering how exactly to divide the updates into digestible bits. At the end of the day its just easier to go get cozy in bed and rest then to commit to blogging.

But here I am, back and ready to get all these exciting pictures and moments documented. I’m just going to start small, and hopefully with momentum get  a lot posted in a short time period. Lets get started with the kitchen build!

To get an idea for the layout and design of the kitchen check out my Kitchen Inspiration & Style Guide. Looking back at it, we really did follow this pretty closely.

Mr. Project built all the cabinets for the entire kitchen+island. So these pics are all the various stages of install.

diy-kitchen-theprojectgirl
First step was the wall cabinets where the range goes. This image is missing one last drawer cabinet on the far right. This was a little tricky in that the cabinets had to be installed before the countetops could be installed before the wall trim could be installed. So a lot was hinging on getting these cabinets in place.

The adjacent appliance wall was a BEAST. We were going for these built-in looking columns which funny enough required building actual columns. So build them Mr. Project did! 4 columns total.

kitchen-progress-columns3-theprojectgirl

Here you can see the finished column on the right, and kind of see the one on the left. kitchen-progress-columns2-theprojectgirl

Mr. Project building one of the center columns using MDF (full weight), and 2x4s.

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How to build kitchen cabinets: Getting Started

June 22nd, 2013

theprojectgirl_building_custom_cabinets

Hi! Mr Project here with a few tidbits from our kitchen cabinet build experience. When the Project Girl and I set out to redo our house in California, I really had no idea what I was doing. Jen had the vision for what this house would be, and I promised to execute. I knew how to use a few tools by then – circular saw, drill, router, hammer to name a few – but I really felt out of my depth. In fact, the first hole we put into a wall the night we signed for the house was as much an adrenaline rush as I had ever felt. Remember when your mom would tell you not to write on the walls, and when you did, you felt SO naughty? Yeah, that was me, but this time with a hammer. It felt surreal.

Here is the kitchen during the first part of demo:

theprojectgirl_kitchen_progress

Check out the before pictures of the project house here, and the after pics here in the Project Girl’s project house reveal!

We had quite the task ahead . . . to say the least . . . Definitely look at those before pictures if you haven’t yet. Every surface of the house needed to be re-done.

Soon, I got into the swing of things (pun intended) and the intimidation and anxiety left with each swing of the hammer and each hole I made.

Fast forward to one of the big, no, BIG parts of the renovation: THE KITCHEN. I hadn’t ever built a kitchen cabinet, but I figured that this wasn’t rocket science or brain surgery. I’d built somewhat complex and challenging pieces of furniture in the past, but still, the thought of building a kitchen cabinet was really daunting and stressful. In retrospect, this was probably due to the fact that I really had no idea HOW they were made or pieced together. I was crippled by fear of not knowing how, and somehow made them out to be this really big deal in my mind.

So, I did what any man that is lost, or looking for directions would NEVER do – I tried to find an instruction manual. Turns out that there are some really great books available for purchase that pretty much teach you everything you need to know about building kitchen cabinets, including how to find the right materials, basic construction and makeup, finishing, install, and even building countertops. These are the books I used to learn pretty much everything I know:

theprojectgirl-cabinet-build-6

“Build Your Own Kitchen Cabinets” ,“Trim Carpentry and Built-Ins” , “Building Kitchen Cabinets”

 Not only was I able to find out how to make them, but how to make them amazing. Just by reading these books. I did have to expand my tools a bit, but the investment was well worth it and from that effort, we were able to build and create an awesome custom kitchen.

Jen, of course, did the kitchen design, and I just made, installed, and finished the cabinets.

So here are seven things I learned during the process of renovation and building our kitchen -

1. Ask questions -

Not only are there usually great people around who are willing to help, but with the internet, you can pretty much find an answer to any question you have. Power tools aren’t that scary if you just read or watch how to use them, or have a friend show you the basics. It’s all about knowing. Ana White, for example, has some really great tips on getting started with building small wood projects.

2. Get the right tools -

Having the right tools for the job is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Think of all the money you could save by doing your own cabinetry! Most of the cost in pricing out custom cabinetry comes from the labor costs associated with the job. I decided to put the money I would save into purchasing the right tools. You can do a lot with a circular saw, cordless drill, and a router, but having a table saw, for example, will save you SO much time. We built our kitchen cabinets for less than 2500 bucks. Killer deal if you ask me!

Here’s a pic of my garage “shop”.

spencer-nugent-garage-shop3. Work Smart -

Cabinetry is pretty standard. Look for patterns as you work and cut your pieces in lots. Cabinets are a lot like puzzles. There are standard pieces and sizes that come together to make the full box.

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4. Have a plan -

The Project Girl out together all our kitchen design drawings before I got to work. This was so helpful! We measured everything and planned out where and how we wanted things to be. That way, we could minimize surprises along the way. Part of the biggest challenge in making something is not having a plan on how to execute.

You can check out more plans from The Project Girl here.

kitchen-sketch1 kitchen-sketch2

 

5. Be ready to change that plan

… And be ready to change that plan too. As we were installing cabinets in our new kitchen, we realized that the floor in our kitchen wasn’t very level. We had to change a few things in our plan to make it work, but it worked out nicely.

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Sometimes, plans change. You can’t see it too well here but there’s definitely a slight shift in level of the floor from one side to the other. We made it work!

6. Patience is everything -

Finishing/Painting is my least favorite part of the process. It sucks. But if you’re patient, have some good tunes, and a good attitude, it’s really not THAT bad. Patience is one of your greatest tools in your arsenal. If you’re patient and let things flow, everything can and will come together. At least, that’s how it was for me.

7. There’s always a fix -

Last, but not least, this is my new motto – “THERE’S ALWAYS A FIX”. One of the great things about this whole process is really, there isn’t THAT much that you can screw up, and if you do, it’s really easy to fix, with some time and effort. Knowing that there always is a fix helps me relax and take things on with a good and positive outlook.

So those are some of the things I learned along the way. There’s much more, of course, and if you’re feeling up for the challenge, here are a few of my favorite books that helped me along the way as I was learning how to build cabinets.

“Build Your Own Kitchen Cabinets” - Solid guide, but not my favorite, though useful.

“Trim Carpentry and Built-Ins” - Good for knowing about how to integrate cabinetry into your home and finish things off.

“Building Kitchen Cabinets” - My personal favorite.

 

Pantry Inspiration and Plans – Canyon View Project House

April 8th, 2013
Okay things have gotten real over here with our new house. We’re going to break ground in a few weeks and until then we’re RUSHING to get the house designed so that everything is to our exacting specifications before we even start. We had to compromise on a lot of rooms/things in the house, but one thing that we both wanted was a large pantry.
I’ve been collecting pantry ideas and am so thrilled to be able to design my very own pantry. Here is some of my awesome inspiration:
Who doesn’t want a hidden entry into a pantry:
And this pantry design was the first inspiration that I had to create a butler’s type pantry with a countertop for appliances etc.
What an awesome place for your microwave! And more open shelving – love it!
Fun barn doors leading to a very open pantry really does make it like a second kitchen.
And if you’re looking for a more elegant butler’s style pantry. I love the idea of wallpaper or patterned tile. Or possibly planked wood.
And why not do it in a fabulous color??
Baskets, shelves, cabinets and coffee!
Might as well throw in a ladder!
This one is just perfection! I think mine will look closest to this room – though I think the color will be a more bluer version of this green – so a desaturated aqua/teal.
Aren’t those all mouth-watering pantries??? I get giddy just thinking about having something similar in my house. The space that we saved for a pantry is about 16′x8′ and is right off the kitchen area so that it can be used as a second kitchen. We’ll have a sink, dishwasher, fridge, and microwave in there. I’m also including a “mom’s desk” or “command central” for all the bills, mail, homework, tasks etc. The pantry also opens into the hallway right next to the garage, so it’s a good central exit/entrance.
I’ve put together my preliminary elevation ideas (using Adobe Illustrator), I’m sure these will change a bit before the final product. Check em out:
Sink View:
You can see the profile of the shelves on the right, And then there will be a small apron sink (24″), and a single dishwasher drawer to the left. I’m so beyond excited to have a window in the pantry.
Fridge View:
A few things to note on this side – The door from the kitchen will be a pocket door – so no swing issues. I’m thinking a cute little cup cabinet next to the sink – I had an inspiration photo of this but can’t find it. Left of the door is a built-in microwave (counter height), and plate dowels above the microwave. A row of glass-door cabinets above all of that for serving ware storage. We’ll also have a full-sized fridge in here, and next to that a big metal or chalkboard message board. (the wall here is flush with the fridge because of a coat closet that is in the hallway.
Desk View:
This is where my big open shelves come into play. So excited about those (I just adore open shelving). I’ll have some pull-out baskets for onions & potatoes, and then my awesome command central with lots of mail slots, and a pin board for chores etc. We’ll also have a charging station for phones and electronics here, and a printer.
I thew in a little color just to play around with some of the ideas floating in my head. I saw this awesome black/navy hutch, and thought the color was perfect for my desk area:
And the rest of the cabinets I was thinking a desaturated blue/green color and a wood or butcher block countertop. Here’s my illustration with some color dropped in:
So that’s our pantry plan for now. I would have to say that this is the room I’m most excited about in the whole house. I can’t wait for it to be done just so I can dance around in it!  What do you think? What would you put in a butler’s pantry if you were designing it?