Category: home renovation

Once More into the Decluttering Fray

When it came time for our kitchen renovation to begin, we had a number of items in the current kitchen that needed to be rehoused while the construction happened. And in true Bryce fashion, I handled that by . . . throwing all of those items into the family room next door. They remained there throughout the long reconstruction process, but when that was all over, I put them right back where they belonged, because I’m awesome.

Ha. No.

I left them there, untouched, because I had lots of other things to do. And they’ve stayed there and stayed there and stayed there, and every time I thought about cleaning the room out, I wilted in the face of just how bad it was. I didn’t know where to begin. Everything was coated in construction dust, and there were a ton of things in there that I didn’t know what to do with. This would be a job that Denisa and I would have to do together.

It probably would have stayed that way indefinitely, except I was asked to play the piano in church on Sunday. The regular pianist would be away, and I needed to pinch hit for a single song. That’s all fine and good, except I hadn’t touched a piano key in years. And where was my piano? In the middle of the mess that was my family room. So in the end, my desire to practice (so I didn’t look like too big of an idiot in public) overcame my reluctance to start on that decluttering job.

Saturday, Denisa and I spent most of the day cleaning. We threw out three big trash bags of stuff, and made a huge pile of other stuff to be given away. We swept and wiped and mopped and scrubbed (and practiced the piano). And the room went from a place where you literally couldn’t sit down to a place that’s close to what it was like before. There are still some piles that need to be gone through, but it was a huge improvement.

I kept that momentum going the next two days, working on the kitchen itself. Since we’d just been putting stuff anywhere into it as we went, there’s a lot of efficiency lost in terms of storage. And it was also easier just to put something somewhere instead of actually decide if we needed it or not. I’ve been making a lot of those decisions, as well.

In the end, it was a very helpful reminder that no matter how hard the job, starting it is often the hardest part. Once you’ve got even a smidge of momentum, things begin to get easier. I took photo and video to track the progress, but Denisa made me swear never to share it publicly, since the room looked as bad as it did. Sorry, folks.

(As for playing the piano, I did well enough. Made some flubs right at the beginning, since I was nervous and it had been so long since I’d played in public, but it went fine after that.)

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this PERFECT PLACE TO DIE Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Kitchen Update: March 2022

I’m sure you’ve all been waiting, wondering if my kitchen might possibly be finished, now that I’ve taken a break from blogging and am back. Surely this project that’s been going on since the Hoover administration is finally complete, right? Right?

Well . . . not quite. That’s the bad news. The good news is that we’ve made real progress. (Today, MC was home sick, so I was home “sick.” But that meant I was here to help out in the kitchen some more. So we got the backsplash set, and it’s now ready to be grouted tomorrow.) Last week, the countertops actually arrived. Getting them in the house was a bit of an ordeal, since the island was one solid piece, 4.5′ by 9′ of granite. It weighed a ton.

We’ve had some backtracking. We redid the cabinets around the fridge, since they hadn’t turned out quite straight, and we swapped a couple of other cabinets around to improve the layout of the kitchen. Some of the painting needs to be redone where a few other repairs went in, and the flooring that we’d already gotten done needed to be taken out and redone.

However, we’ve made a lot of progress as well. Now we’re really just looking at what needs to be done, which is a rapidly dwindling list:

  • Grout the backsplash
  • Finish the floor under the oven and dishwasher, and then attach the dishwasher to the cabinets.
  • Tweak the door to the bathroom, which ended up being a bit too narrow for the opening, since the barn door hardware leaves it too far out from the frame.
  • Put in the trim around the corners and edges of the ceiling and cabinets.
  • Put on the back piece and corner pieces for the island.
  • Paint the sunroom.
  • Make seat cushions for the seats in the sunroom.
  • Finish the trim to the family room.
  • Finish the trim around the outside of the door to the garage.

While that may seem like a lot, many of those jobs are a half hour or less, and none of them should be longer than a few hours to complete. (Well, other than the painting. Sigh.) But as far as construction goes, we are really close.

Which is great, since as soon as that’s done, we can actually clean the rest of the house.

And start on the main bathroom. Bathrooms are much simpler renovations though, right?

Riiiiiiight.

Have no fear: I will be posting pictures once the kitchen is up to it.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this PERFECT PLACE TO DIE Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

The Year without a Christmas

It’s been forever since I’ve jumped on here to post. It’s not because I fell off the face of the earth. Rather, I dove deep into the bowels of the kitchen renovation. I’m pleased to report that I’ve (mostly) come out the other side. (The mental image is quite appropriate.) Where is my renovation at the moment? Pretty much all demolition is done. The cabinets are all in. The island is in. The lights are in most of the kitchen. The doors are almost done. The trim is done. Almost everything is painted. The sink is in.

Probably it’s better to ask at this point, what isn’t done? The floor is the big thing. We have it, but it’s not in yet. We also need to finish off the sunroom completely. (Ceiling, walls, trim, electric, and window seats.) The door to the bathroom needs to be put in. (And then the bathroom and mudroom need to be done, but that’ll wait until February or March.)

This hasn’t really been a kitchen “remodel.” This has been the construction of a new kitchen. Most of the walls are rebuilt completely. The electric is totally new, as is the plumbing. We move the location of every major appliance. It’s been a loooong process. And I’ve taken many days of vacation time to help move it along more quickly. On top of that, I’ve usually worked 8-2 or 4pm during the day, and then added on another four hours or so of work at night.

We’ve emptied the dumpster in our driveway four times. It’s not a small dumpster.

The biggest casualty of all of this (other than my back) has been our Christmas season. We have almost no decorations up. We haven’t even had time to buy a tree, let alone decorate it. I did manage to get Christmas shopping done, though I haven’t wrapped anything, and some of it will be coming after Christmas.

For a person who loves to recharge his mental and physical batteries each December, this has been a Not Great Christmas. It’s even worse that it’ll be Tomas’s last Christmas at home. I’m pretty bummed about the whole thing, to say the least. That’s probably another reason I haven’t posted. I just haven’t wanted to think about what this month has been like.

I’ve completely given up on my goals. I haven’t written all month. Haven’t finished a book. Haven’t weighed myself in days. As you’ve noticed, I haven’t blogged. Other than necessities like work, I’ve done almost nothing else other than spend a bit of time with the family each night watching a Cutthroat Kitchen. (When I haven’t roped family members into continuing to work on the kitchen with me.)

The good news(?) is that as I said, we’re through most of it. Denisa is going to get a tree with Tomas in a few hours, and we’ll try to decorate some before the actual holiday hits. Our contractor is coming to work on the house with me tomorrow, and then he’s taking a well-deserved break until the new year. I’ll take the same thing.

I don’t know. It’s been rough, and I’m probably underselling it if anything. The kitchen will look gorgeous, and it’s enormous compared to what it was. They’re coming to measure for the countertops tomorrow, and we’ll get them (theoretically) by mid-February. We’re going to be using plywood and leftover doors as counters until then. I keep thinking that I’ll be looking back at all of this a few months from now and be happy we did it all.

I just wish the timing had ended up being better. It’s not like we planned for it to happen now. It is what it is.

In any case, don’t really plan on seeing me much around here until next year. I’ll be taking what vacation I can scrounge. I hope things are going well for you. Catch you on the flip side.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this PERFECT PLACE TO DIE Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Glad to Be a Librarian

Sometimes you take a look at your life and realize how happy you are to be where you are and to be doing what you’re doing. That can happen when you have something come across your regular life that just is so right, it reminds you how great you’ve got it. It can also, of course, happen when you do something so far out of what you normally do, and it makes you realize how much better what you normally do really is.

For me, this kitchen renovation has been more of the latter than the former. I am very glad there are people like my contractor who are so good at looking at a space and knowing what needs to be done to that space to turn it into the space you’d like it to be. Not just that, but they’re able to make that happen.

I am not one of those people.

Everyone I’ve talked to about kitchen renovations has commiserated with me about how difficult they are, and I appreciate it. That said, there are multiple elements to this renovation that have made it more difficult than perhaps even a normal kitchen renovation.

  • We’re renovating the oldest part of our house. Built in 1841, when we’re moving some of these walls around, we’re dealing with huge beams, not 2×4’s. More like 8x8s or 12x12s. The floor hasn’t known a straight day in its life, and the walls have only a passing relationship to level. When you’re trying to put normal, modern elements into a kitchen like that, it’s difficult to say the least.
  • The kitchen is over the smallest part of the crawlspace in the basement. Probably about two feet of clearance, and you’re crawling over piles of brick, fieldstone, and dirt, with plenty of spiderwebs, spiders, and the remnants of decades of rodents. I don’t like cramped spaces. I’m not full blown claustrophobic, but I lean in that direction. Yesterday, while I was down in the bowels of my house and had just cut open my hand with a sawzall, I definitely wasn’t hoping to do renovation work for the rest of my life.
  • Our contractor is awesome, but he’s just one guy. We don’t have a team of construction people showing up to git ‘r dun. Because a lot of the work on this project needs another set of hands, that other set of hands has been, typically, me. I’ve taken multiple “days off” to work on the kitchen. Except each day I “take off” just means I’m falling behind on actual work, which means once I’m done with construction (or in the middle of it), I have to jump on a Zoom call or answer emails, or work on grading papers.
  • This is a big renovation. Totally replaced one wall. Tearing down two walls. Combining three different slightly different floor levels. Moving the fridge, sink, oven, and dishwasher. Moving baseboard heat (which we thankfully contracted out). Swapping out the floor and the ceiling. You name it.

And then, above all, is the fact that this has gone on for sooooo long. Between first thinking of the renovations three or four years ago to finally getting around to it, I am so ready for it to be done. Ready to stop the days of getting up and starting construction work first thing, and then continuing that work after my contractor has gone home, to try and get through this quicker. 12 hours a day of construction is enough to remind me that yes, I’d much rather be a librarian.

However, we now have a sink that has running water, even if it doesn’t always drain. We have an over where it belongs, and it works, even if it doesn’t have a range hood yet. We have a fridge that’s plugged in where it’s supposed to be, with a waterline attached to it that doesn’t leak, even if the fridge isn’t quite ready to be put in place. And we have a dishwasher next to the spot it’s going to go, with electrical and water already hooked up next to it.

The ceiling is mostly done. The drywall is . . . halfway finished? We only have one wall left to tear down. We are making progress, even if I’m too tired to recognize it.

I am so looking forward to going back to just being a librarian and author. Stick to my strengths.

But hey: at least I’ll have an awesome kitchen once I get there.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this PERFECT PLACE TO DIE Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Making Progress

It’s been a bit since I updated you on the kitchen progress. (Actually, it’s been a bit since I updated you, period.) Somehow, we keep moving forward, even though at times it feels like there’s no way we’re going to be able to get anything actually done. The drywall is up, electrical is in the process of being done, we’re working on switching the heat for the room, and we actually have cabinets in place now. Some of them.

Of course, each time we get something done, I just remember all the many many other things we need to do. But I’ve been taking pictures and video from each day, and it’s been helpful to go and look at the earlier videos and remind myself just how much has actually happened. I mean, the floor might not be in yet, but at least I’ve ordered it, and it’s on its way. The lights may not be done, but it’s the same for them. And insulation is largely in.

The problem with big projects like this is that it’s so hard to get to a place where you finally say to yourself that you’re finished. There’s the ultimate goal, and until you get to that goal, it can feel like you’re nowhere close. In this case, I know the kitchen won’t be finished until January or February. They’re coming to measure for the granite on a couple of weeks, and then it’ll be the new year before the granite is installed. However, my hope is that we’ll have at least a usable kitchen well before then.

What do we have to do before we can use the kitchen? Plumbing and electrical. If those are done, then the oven’s back online, the sink will work, and we’ll have a dishwasher again. Those are huge steps. And the good news is that I don’t think we’re that far from being there.

In the meantime, it’s time to take a break from all of it and head down to NYC. Thank goodness we weren’t planning on doing Thanksgiving dinner in our house. Maybe we’ll make a turkey once all of this is over. I will miss not having the traditional meal, but it’ll be good to be somewhere other than my house for a while.

Anyway. Hope you all have a lovely break, and I’ll catch you on Monday!

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this PERFECT PLACE TO DIE Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

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