218 Donna Lea "Front of House" renovation

218 Donna Lea Master Suite Project
218 Donna Lea Breezeway / Office Remodel
218 Donna Lea "Front of House" renovation
2016 Bathroom remodel
by Melissa Weiksnar

Day 26: 05/10/2018
Brian the blinds installer came and installed blinds throughout the house. I'd temporarily used shades from the sunroom in the kitchen, living, and dining rooms. We decided on blinds (2-1/2" slats) because they can be fully retracted, and allow varying degrees of opening for privacy and sunlight. We have wood blinds across the front and side of the house. Brian commented how the wood is so good a match with the trim that it's as if it were custom. Also, it matches really well with the house exterior. Big lesson learned: find out how long an estimate is valid before ordering to avoid surprises!
Kitchen before
...and after
Dining Room before
...and after
Living room before
...and after
look who I found when I opened the blinds one morning!

Day 25 Monday April 24 2017
Lots of little "completion items." We await the new baseboard diffusers, some remaining silicone caulking, and the 3 replacement doors.
Mirror re-hung.
Sofa returned to living room in "feng shui" location. Had to be moved before the bifold between the front and back of house could be rehung.
Laundry room with Allentown tiles and wire shelf. Love the shadows!
Re-hung bifold (left) and new railing to landing (right).
Loren applied a silicone grout between the base of the glass tile and the granite for durability. The electrician replaced the outlet near the sink with a GFI.

Day 24 Friday April 21 2017
The electrician stopped by Thursday to retrieve his drill, and I pointed out the living room outlets that need to be converted to white; he'll either do as part of the breezeway project or when he comes Monday to replace some kitchen outlets with GFI (the inspector caught this error on Friday). I was en route to the BPO when I received a message that Loren couldn't find the kitchen backsplash grout -- we never had it. Fortunately I was only 5 minutes from Daltile, and Denise called in the order and I had it at the house in 20 minutes. I returned home and Denise had stopped by, and we gawked over how great the backsplash is looks, with the grout tying the upper to the lower cabinets. She also loved the chandelier placement (I put back the fallen-off pieces and replaced lightbulbs on Thursday). Loren started to install the shoe molding, but ends up the stained pieces are too yellow, so the painter will have to re-stain -- I recall how I spent last 4th of July trying to match base stain color for Carlisle, and it is a pain! Looking ahead to Monday, biggest "completion list" is laundry room (grout subway tile; place Allentown tiles; bring up and connect washer and dryer (Randy can help Loren bring them up from the basement); install shelf; bevel doors). Other items include landing railing, reinstall dining room mirror, and hopefully rehang the bifold door to the back of house (we'll need to move the sofa to the living room first).
backsplash grouted, with 1/8" spacers out
shoe molding that looks too yellow between the base and the floor
white shoe around white cabinets; cookbooks in their new location!

Day 23 Tuesday April 18 2017

The backsplash and laundry room tile is up; Denise and I designed the layout for the latter, into which we'll incorporate my 5 Allentown 1984 AM&As tiles. Loren discovered water under the island -- we have no idea how it got there -- and wicked it out with paper towels. The electrician connected the dishwasher, puck lights, and installed the chandelier and the new post lantern. Loren will be back Friday to grout the tile, rehang the mirror, and install the shoe molding. I'll pick up the wire shelving for the laundry room, and he'll get the railing for the landing steps. We all decided that I'd paint behind the fridge and if that works we'll keep it like that, and if we don't we'll use the leftover white subway tile to finish the area.

On Saturday, my first non-family kitchen guest was one of my Children's colleagues. On Sunday, Phil and I made Tiramisu, and he gave the design a thumbs up. Sunday evening, I was able to have my brothers, sister and family, and cousin over for dessert, and the space worked beautifully!

Light from side door window on the landing woodwork
idea 1 for laundry room tile: subway pattern with embedded Allentown tiles
idea 2: linear pattern with Allentown tiles to float
the smoky gray tile backsplashes. Grout spacers still in.
new exterior lantern. Azalea in full bloom as of today
laundry room tile; temporary rail underneath
chandelier in the landing hall. Need to attach the rest of the crystal
undercabinet puck LED lighting. Loving the pet care station to the left of the fridge, and the coffee station to the right.

Day 22 Friday April 14 2017
Last night I started putting items back in the kitchen, trying to make sure I don't clutter up the clean look. Today Loren arrived around noon, just as I was returning from baking with Katy. He agreed that the photos of the kitchen don't do it justice. He installed the faucet, and we called Denise to clarify instructions on how to set the glass backsplash tile on Monday. The electrician will come on Tuesday to put power to the dishwasher, but I can start using the stove. Evelyn was the first person with whom I shared a meal in the new space.

Day 21 Thursday April 13 2017
The remodel started a month ago today. The painter was here for an hour this morning, and Buffalo Granite came around 12:30. Wow. I felt like the person on HGTV who walks into a remodeled house. Pictures cannot due the new kitchen justice. Denise came over and she was wowed too. This evening I started moving items into the kitchen in anticipation of Ev's arrival tomorrow
"after". I was not anticipating the reflections
living room window in the background. All 4 barstools assembled and in place
already loving the "landing pads" on either side of the fridge
Denise was pleasantly surprised that we had no seam at the sink

Day 20 Wednesday April 12 2017
Painter arrived by 7 and was gone by the time I was back from class and errands at 11:20.
Switchplates going back on. River was my walking "paint sample" as he could show people the color of the paint on his tail, ear, and shoulder.
The painted vestibule. Next step: rehang the old dining room chandelier.
2-1/2 counter chairs assembled, 1-1/2 to go.

Day 19 Tuesday April 11 2017
Painting today from 7-11:15. I love the way the tile is looking (and it's only primed so far) and am wondering if I should have kept more. The plumber connected the gas line for the dryer, and fixed the loose hot water tap in the bathroom.
the paint is taking longer to dry on the old plaster than on the new drywall, slightly slowing down the job
the primed formerly-yellow tile leading down to the breezeway
the gas connection for the dryer

Day 18 Monday April 10 2017
The painter arrived at 7, and was done for the day when I returned home ~2. He should be done Thursday at the latest, and possibly Wednesday. Sunday morning I removed electrical plates, and took down curtains, draperies, and cornices. Denise stopped by and advised that the painter remove all rods. The house looks so different!
untreated windows.
Mittens likes the window sill. I was sitting on it yesterday, reading and watching the birds. I'm thinking about a cushion and no draperies.
1st coat of paint in laundry room; note new dryer vent
sheet hung between front and back of house given no front window privacy. Glad I saved the old shower curtain rod!
I heard that 'Buffalo Green" was very popular in the 1950s, and that it's coming back
bar stools arrived, a project for later this week
venting for dryer from new location to existing vent (Loren completed Friday)

Day 17 Friday April 7 2017
No contractors Tues, Weds, or Thurs. I left for Boston Wednesday evening, and returned Friday night having to scrape off my car from the snow! Loren was in on Friday. This weekend is prep for the painter on Monday! note: Saturday morning I could notice from the box in the trash that Loren had also installed the dryer vent
dummy levers are on the laundry room doors, and microwave is in its new location
dining room mirror is down, and hole is drilled in end of island for that electrical outlet
the painter dropped off the 5 strips of stained molding and the 2 strips of white. Plants surviving in Florida room. Note the snow in the backyard.

16 Monday April 3 2017
Only Randy and his son today. They installed the larger lantern next to the front door; the smaller one will either replace the old one in the FL room or go by the side door (price permitting). The switches to the living room recessed lights and the laundry room are active. They installed the old fixture in new mounting above the kitchen sink. They spent most of their time working in the basement. Brian's crew was here on Saturday and the floor looks great!
New larger lantern to left of front door, matches smaller one above
glass fixture above sink is another homage to the old house
more basement wire dressing
Cats showing off the new floor. Heating diffuser will go to the left of Mittens so they'll have their favorite warm spot back

Day 15 Friday March 31 2017
Loren had estimated 3 weeks, and he can't do much more until the granite install; he starts another job on Monday. The drywaller was in today to complete the laundry room walls. Loren and I reviewed the "completion list" (as well as the architect's drawing for the master suite). The electrician will probably be back next week to finish connecting all the fixtures. Loren may stop by to bevel the laundry room doors, replace the heating vents, place the fake doors on the microwave end of the island (see Day 11) and vent the range hood et al. Once the painter is done (April 10-12), Loren can install the shoe molding, put up the decorative tile and wire shelving in the laundry room, and move the washer and dryer upstairs. Assuming the granite install can't be moved up from April 13th, Loren will try to connect the sink (glue for an undermount takes 24 hours to dry) so the kitchen would be functional just about the time Evelyn arrives for Easter. Post-granite Loren will install the smoky-gray backsplash subway tile in the kitchen. Denise and I need to inspect the cabinets to note any faces that need replacement. Still not sure how I'll sequester Webster this weekend ...
range hood installed. I like its smaller size
laundry room drywall completed
View of some of the basement electrical work to be wrapped up. So glad the ceiling was open!

Day 14 Thursday March 30 2017
Loren installed cabinet hardware and the second laundry room door (the one from the "cats' bedroom"). He then took the door off my bedroom and rehinged it so Mittens and Scooby could be closed in, which will be necessary when the 3rd coat of poly goes on the floors Saturday at 10 (not sure how I'll enclose Webster). Randy and his son installed the pendant lights over the island -- one glass shade is chipped so Denise will return it to the local store (much easier than dealing with an online retailer). He is also changing the front-of-house outlets to white (no more metal faceplates) and the switches to rocker panels. The LED under-cabinet puck lighting is installed. The plumbing inspector came, and said to make sure I have some kind of high water alarm on the sump pump. Denise and I met at Buffalo Granite at 10 and we signed off on the fabrication. They will let us know if they can move our smaller job in front of two larger jobs. Denise stopped by later, hoping to overlap with the architect who was delivering the drawings for the master suite. We browsed barstools online and are deciding between two models; it would be so nice to be able to see them in a local store before buying them!
repurposed bedroom doors for laundry area
3 island pendants installed
one of 4 undercabinet "puck" LED lights

Day 13 Wednesday March 29 2017
The cabinetry work is almost done - handles will probably go on tomorrow. I noticed seam glitch on one door; Loren said to inspect them all then we'll ask for any replacements. Buffalo Granite came ~11 to template using cardboard. Denise and her husband stopped by and we clarified a few details on corners, the sink, and the faucet. She and I will go to BG tomorrow at 10 to sign off, and hopefully move up the install date. While the island looks a bit skinny, it was clear with the granite template that the proportion will look better, and even moreso with barstools. The plumbers ran the line to the washing machine, and still need to run the gas line for the dryer -- plumbing inspection in the morning. The electrician was attending to another job so we should see him tomorrow. Tonight I plan to clean the old dining room chandelier so it can be hung in the hall between the kitchen, basement stairs, and breezeway.
Bob put down the foyer vinyl, leftover from the guest bath remodel
Bob also put down the laundry area tile, using leftover from the guest bath remodel -- which wasn't quite enough -- so Loren contributed some darker surplus which will go in the back and won't be seen. Note the new plumbing for the washer.
Wow! Love how Loren trimmed the back of the island, as it will be seen from the living room. Under the left kitchen casement are the boxes of pendant lights which should go up above the island tomorrow. To the right of the fridge is an add-on project - a larger size lantern for next to the front door. The current one will be reused either in the Florida room or next to the side door.

Day 12 Tuesday March 28 2017
Just Loren working today, mostly on fillers and trim. We discussed the washer / dryer placement in the laundry room -- yet another 1st world decision example. Advance Glass arrived ~9 to remove the dining room window panel and returned ~1 with the new cut-to-exact-size replacement -- fortunately they did not discover any wood rot but the exterior will need re-painting (planned for the summer but I may need to move it up). Orville's arrived ~10 with the dishwasher and stove, and removed the old (broken) dishwasher and the freezer in the basement that I never used. Puppy was quite anxious until Loren left and I couldn't find her anti-anxiety meds to help along with all the additional petting. River and the cats seem fine.
Orville. Per Loren, the trucks park in the street lest they incur liability for any driveway damage.
View with the temporary cardboard across the area where the glass was removed. New appliances placed.
View with the new clear glass!
The door from the temporary living quarters installed for the new laundry room. I ordered the "dummy handles" from Home Depot.

Day 11 Monday March 27 2017
Week 3 begins! Loren, Bob, Randy, and his son accomplished so much! When I came home after class all the cabinets were set. When I went to collect the pets, the painter came around noon for the shoe molding that Loren purchased over the weekend so he can paint it. Denise stopped by to verify island placement and her jaw dropped -- she said the implementation looks even better than she had imagined. (Given the placement of the island pendants, we really didn't have that much choice in placement, but decided to have more space on the sink side -- Loren and Bob moved it the 6" so we could tell for sure. Since Loren likes to cook he has had many wonderful practical suggestions). We decided the shoe molding will match the baseboard and casing (NOT the floor), except on the cabinetry, where it will be white. The new electrical outlet for the refrigerator is in. And Loren discovered I have a gas dryer after all -- I thought it was electric because I saw a plug, but apparently that's to start the motor. Fortunately, not a big deal for the plumber will run the gas line.
island, 108" long. Microwave will go in the upper shelf, cookbooks below.
Bob installed the subfloor in the foyer. Some of the recessed lights have power.
Loren, Denise and I decided on the trim for the back of the island. Many fillers are in.
laundry subfloor installed, and old toilet opening gone. The 4 recessed lights installed in the living room, and 1 in laundry.
pantry. Inspection by none other than Scooby.

Day 10 Friday March 24
Brian's crew arrived at 7:45, just as I was starting to load the car; I pulled away about 10 minutes later with the 2 dogs and 3 cats. I stopped back ~3:30 and the crew was gone -- the floors look amazing! I picked up the mail, turned off a few lights, and locked up. The cats are with Denise, and the dogs and I are staying with my cousin Katy; we go back home on Monday.
view from the landing.
view from the front foyer. This continuous horizontal effect was the goal
view around the corner looking into the living room

Day 9 Thursday March 23 2017
Brian and crew of two arrived at 7:45. Loren came by and watched their technique for a bit, and ran an electrical line up from the basement so we could plug in the refrigerator from its new temporary location. Denise stopped in and we agreed to go with water-based polyurethane -- 80% of Brian's customers use it instead of oil-based. It dries faster, and the fumes don't persist as long. We also confirmed placement of the handles on the cabinetry. The pets and I vacate Friday morning so the crew can do the second sanding, staining, and 2 coats of poly. Brian said I could come back Saturday morning, but the dogs not until Monday, and then try to keep them off the floor for a few days -- aargh! The painter will pick up the shoe molding to stain on Monday (Loren will procure it Saturday).
removing boards from existing floor so the new red oak can be "toothed in" so the floor looks continuous. More expensive, but everyone said that if I didn't do it that way, it would look like I was trying to do the project on the cheap. View from the back of house (new laundry room to the right). Note that Brian also nailed down any "squeaks" in the subfloor. I told the story of the Nightingale floors in Japanese palaces, which they hadn't heard.
view from the kitchen toward the living room
by noon, all the new boards were installed!
dogs napping at Grandma and Grandpa's -- we vacated to escape the noise and dust of the first sanding
Brian agreed the fridge could go in the old lav -- note the boards parallel to the front of the fridge so you won't see the laundry room vinyl flooring when the doors are closed.
~4:30pm: view of the kitchen
view from the kitchen

Day 8 Wednesday March 22 2017
Mark arrived at 7 and finished drywalling ~9;he was thrilled (as were the pets) that I kept the temp at 72 overnight (instead of the usual 64) because everything dried to his liking. Loren was here by 8 and left ~noon; he finished hanging all the cabinet uppers are hung, and showed me how the above-cabinet valences and crown will "disguise" the cabinet height differences due to the floor slope (~1/2") from the front to the back of the kitchen. Filler strips will be used for various vertical gaps, e.g. between the cabinets and either side of the fridge and the walls (I wondered how the painter would ever get in there!). We are ready for Brian to start the hardwood floors at 8am! We reviewed the schedule, and hope the granite install can be earlier than April 13th (field measure is March 29th).
Cabinets above the fridge will have glass doors for display purposes. Hadn't realized that they would extend so far over the fridge. Note that to save $, we'll keep the current fridge as long as it works.
We'll need all 4 trades to finish the laundry room: plumbing, electrical, drywall, and Loren (minimal). He hopes that Brian agrees with my idea to move the fridge into this space during the floor work so it doesn't have to be moved to the back living quarters.
Loren removed the old flooring in the front foyer and closet -- more difficult than he expected. We will use the leftover gray Tarkett flooring from the guest bath (see the remodel link) for this area so we don't create the height gap that hardwood or tile would create.

Day 7 Tuesday March 21 2017
Loren and Mark arrived around 7:30. Bob also helped with lav demo. Denise and the architect (Carol) arrived ~9:30 and reviewed Carol's drawings for the master suite. We looped Loren in at the end and he had more great ideas -- we should have new drawings in a week. After an early afternoon visit with my folks, I came home to the first hung cabinets!
will verify cabinet height and filler assumptions in the morning before more go up
discussed flooring options with Loren and Denise for laundry room, and whether to have a floor drain or a pan

Day 6 Monday March 20 2017
Loren and the drywaller arrived around 7:30, but no extra helper for lav demo. Loren replaced the beam screws with nails, and the building inspector signed off.
sink is out, and some recessed lights are active
drywalling on the refrigerator wall, and Inspector Mittens

Day 5 Friday March 17 2017

Loren's 2 helpers showed up (and Ray, the designer from NY Kitchen and Bath), the beam is in place, and the temporary wall is down. But the town building inspector came and said that nails -- and not screws -- should have been used; Loren was NOT happy that his contact at 84 lumber misled him. The plumber will also need to put in some stud material where it was taken out when the original plumbing was installed behind the kitchen sink -- he referred to a "saddle" to secure it (see yesterday's close-up). Loren also has to apply "fire caulk" around some of openings where wires come up by the new laundry room.

Randy noticed that we can't put a recess above the sink due to the joist. Denise stopped by and we agreed that we'll install a flushmount light instead. The electrical inspector gave final sign-off on the guest bath ;-) and the current work so far. Apparently NY Kitchen and Bath did not show the range hood on the final drawing -- a surprise to Loren -- so Randy had to pull a line for that. The basement floor was cleaned up -- what a mess from all the sawdust et al. My router went out due to all the vibration but Randy came up with a workaround.

Loren hopes to have a helper (Bob) on Monday morning for lav demo while he works on changing the screws to nails in the beams (will take a few hours). Drywall can also proceed in parallel. Randy probably won't be back until the week after next. It will be weird having only the one bathroom for the time being -- the architect comes on Tuesday to present plans for the master suite, which we're hoping to make happen in May.

beam hangers in the cut joists before the beam went in
beam is in -- what a mess!
view from back of house -- wow! See building permits taped on kitchen window to the left
view from dining room - wow! Puppy and River Jr. think it's time for a treat!

Day 4 Thursday March 16 2017
The snow started melting under temps in the high 30s, but all the snow on my roof makes me wish I'd brought the roof rake to NY as the Carlisle ice dam damage was only 25 months ago! Randy arrived at 7:30 and began work on the 15 recessed lights: 4 living room, 2 dining room, 1 hall, 2 laundry room, 6 kitchen. Loren arrived ~8 and was not pleased that the beam helpers went to another job instead -- they promise to come Friday. The beam arrived, and Loren and the plumber (Jim) carried it in the front door. We called Denise over mid-morning to finalize placement of the 3 pendants over the island, and decided that a 12" granite overhang makes sense, obviating the need for additional support. Jim relocated the line behind the sink given that the new sink is deeper. Loren and I reviewed the schedule and signed the contract -- finishing by Easter will be tight. I went NY Kitchen & Bath to pay for the cabinets by credit card (lots of air miles). My tongue is feeling a little gritty -- I wonder if it's all the fine dust, which seems to be everywhere. When doing laundry tonight, all the dryer noise came up through non-floor in the kitchen, so when the current units give out I may consider quieter models.
24' MDF beams. Demo of lav to convert it to 1st floor laundry has started. All headers to be removed are out
re-routed kitchen plumbing line. Can no longer use right side of sink
electrical work in kitchen ceiling for pendants and recessed fixtures. River guarding the fridge.
cats were hanging out by the MDF but moved when I pulled out the camera.

Day 3 Wednesday March 15 2017
I woke up at 6:15 thinking I had more time than usual, then looked outside and realized: I need to shovel. 50 minutes later the paths were clear for the beam delivery, but alas 84 Lumber could not deliver again -- the snow State of Emergency continued, and morning roads were terrible. Loren arrived by the time I left at 8:30 for my UB midterm, and when back home ~10:35 the electrician (Randy) was here scoping out the job, and Denise had just arrived. We designed the lighting plan, to include 5" LED recessed cans, LED puck lights for under the cabinets, 3 pendants above the island, and no dining room chandelier. Outlets will be upgraded -- many still have the original 1958 metal switchplates.
Loren's buddies left off a dump trailer so the demo materials could be hauled away. Loren, Randy, and Denise had to move their cars out of the driveway. A neighbor let Denise and me park in his driveway so the town could plow. Snow continued into mid-afternoon.
NY Kitchen and Bath delivered the cabinets when I was at UB. Fortunately I'd clarified with Loren before I left that all the existing hardwood would be refinished, so the cabinets couldn't go in the living room. They are temporarily in the garage, and some will move into the breezeway when the demo materials are hauled away.
Dump trailer filling up, and snow blew off my roof
2x4s delivered for temporary wall
temporary wall as seen from landing
headers coming out
temporary wall as seen from living room.
Breezeway now holds new stainless steel sink atop old dishwasher. Trash removed, and extra 2x4s moved here.

Day 2 Tuesday March 14th 2017
Today's snow State of Emergency meant that Loren encountered very little traffic this morning. Unfortunately, 84 Lumber could not deliver the beam: they used a leased truck and it was "grounded" due to the SoE. Also, Loren's helper couldn't come because schools were closed and he had to watch his children.
But Loren pretty pretty much completed the demo
... and Puppy inspected
The ceiling contains the original rock wool insulation, a real breathing hazard, as well as some more recent fiberglass. Lots of dust today
can still use the sink. Will not have a disposall in the new kitchen

Day 1 Monday March 13th 2017
Contractor (Loren) arrived at 7:50. We consulted with the designer (Denise) from 11-12. Loren wrapped up ~2:30.
view from landing into kitchen / dining room
view from dining room into kitchen / landing. Gas stove removed a few weeks ago. We will keep the yellow ceramic tile in the landing and paint the color of the trim.
wall between kitchen and lavatory hall removed; lav will become 1st floor laundry
view from dining room into kitchen / landing. Note wall to dining room on left removed
original wood, original linoleum, 1970s overlap vinyl
view from landing into kitchen / dining room; right side opened up, left to follow
view from landing into living room (see stack of hardwood delivered today so it can acclimate before installation on Mar 23rd) and lavatory hall
view from back vestibule: kitchen / dining to left
our temporary living / office / kitchen quarters. Thanks to my brother John for his moving help! Refrigerator will move in soon. Microwave is in the guest room so as not to overload circuits.