Category: home renovation

Cabinets: Purchased!

I first posted about getting ready to renovate our kitchen back in September of 2018. At the time, I noted we had the basic plan in place for the layout of the room, but we were a bit daunted by how big of a project this was going to be. It might take a year to really get ready for it. (Ha ha ha.) In November of 2019, I wrote about how I was finally getting ready to move forward with cabinet selection and purchase. (Ha ha ha.) I had found an online cabinet company that would send us Ready To Assemble (RTA) cabinets, and it seemed like that would be cheaper than going with buying cabinets pre-made. In July 2020, I wrote about still gearing up for those renovations, and maybe looking at that fall to do them. (Ha ha ha.) I could have sworn I wrote a post in September or so, talking about how Denisa and I went to Lowe’s to do a consultation around cabinets, but I can’t find it now. We’d talked to friends who swore that would be cheaper and easier than RTA, and the consultation was free, so . . .

Yesterday, we finally ordered and paid for the cabinets. We did end up getting them from Lowe’s instead of the online company I’d found. Why? For one thing, they were less expensive. I’m not surprised it was hard for me to tell that at first. Figuring out just how expensive cabinets will be from Lowe’s is a bewildering process. It’s hard to find the prices anywhere, and when I’d guesstimated the cost, I hadn’t realized that Lowe’s discounts their cabinets. Heavily. So the price you see on the surface ends up being much less than the price you pay.

For example, our cabinets ended up being 40% off the final price, plus 50% off the stain we chose. Lowe’s was running a 30% off sale (that seems to be pretty much permanent, judging from the fact that every time I checked on the price over the last year, the sale was always running). We got that extra 10% off by applying for a Lowe’s credit card, which typically gives you 5% off at Lowe’s, but for cabinets this week, they were doubling that.

So the Lowe’s cabinets are less expensive, they’re the same quality as what I was looking at online in terms of construction, they’ll arrive pre-assembled, and I don’t have to worry about them anymore. I also had someone who actually knew what they were talking about help me design the layout. Maxwell was our assistant at the Augusta Lowe’s, and I was very happy with the help he gave us and how patient and courteous he was. That made a complicated process that much easier to handle. (All told, I think we spent 8 hours in that store over three different visits, picking out wood types, stains, layout, features, and all.)

For the record, we went with rustic alder for the wood choice, with a stain that will make it slightly darker and give it a matte finish. Our current kitchen has 7 drawers and basically 8 cabinets. The new one will have something like 13 drawers and 14 cabinets. It’s hard to match it up one to one, but we’re going to have many more storage options. I was worried the increased cost of lumber right now would have made them more expensive, but apparently that isn’t the case. The lead time, however, has gone from 4-8 weeks to 16 weeks, which might have been a problem if we were planning to do this soon, but we’re not going to start until August, so it’s not nearly as big of a deal.

At this point, the cabinet’s are ordered, the fridge is here, the dishwasher’s here . . . Let’s put it this way: if we don’t renovate the kitchen this fall, we’re going to have an awful lot of boxes around the house for way too long.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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 the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That 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 Dishwasher Saga

As you likely know if you read my blog regularly, our current plan is to renovate our kitchen this year. Right now we’re looking at August. COVID pushes everything back. Always. We first wanted to do it back last spring, then we bumped that to the fall, and then to this spring, and now to August. Meanwhile, the price of lumber has skyrocketed, leading me to believe the industry has been taken over by some drug cartel. (I mean, it’s gotten three times as expensive in less than a year. Yowzers.)

But Denisa and I are undaunted. We want to press forward. For one thing, we already bought a new refrigerator when our old one broke during the pandemic, and the new one doesn’t fit where the old one used to go. This means we have our fridge in a different room than the kitchen. Now, I may not be a professional kitchen designer, so perhaps this is some new cutting edge approach to kitchen layouts, but I’ll say from experience, it’s Less Than Optimal when it comes to actually using your fridge. Also, our dishwasher is gurgling its way to an approaching death. The interior rack is literally rusting away to nothing, and I’m beginning to think people may need a tetanus shot just looking at it.

Which is why we bought a brand spanking NEW dishwasher on black Friday. Yes, it was earlier than we thought we needed to buy it, but I did some research into dishwasher storage, and it looked like we’d be fine leaving it in the garage over the winter, even in Maine temperatures. Little did we know that buying the dishwasher at the end of November meant we wouldn’t actually get it until . . .

Who knows? Not yet. We’ve called the company multiple times to keep getting updates. Supposedly we’re now the 13th people in line. (How long was this line to begin with?!?) This means we should have a dishwasher with our name on it in the next shipment of Bosch dishwashers the company gets. (I would say this all sounds fishy, but this isn’t my first kitchen appliance rodeo during the pandemic, remember? Getting the fridge required a not-so-minor miracle, and thank goodness that came through. Our backup plan was to use the hand-me-down fridge we have in the garage, which we still have from Breadweavers days. I’m not 100% sure, but my gut says this would have been less useful than having a fridge in an adjacent room to the kitchen . . .)

Theoretically, we should get our dishwasher sometime in April. But remember, that will then be contingent on the postal service (or some delivery service) getting it here. So maybe it’s good we’re not planning to use it until August. (And boy am I glad we bought it in November. If we bought it now, it almost certainly wouldn’t have arrived in time for our renovation.)

Now if you’ll excuse me, my lumber dealer just texted me to tell me he got a new shipment of premium white pine in, and if I don’t run over to pick it up now, I’m going to regret it. Here’s hoping the police don’t bust the trade this time.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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 the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That 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.

New Blinds!

Yes, we’ve come to the point in my life where getting new blinds for the house is a Big Accomplishment. Twenty years ago, I wouldn’t have thought I’d reach this point until I was past retirement age, but time does funny things to you, and our old curtains were getting long in the tooth. Plus, I had no idea just how complex it would be getting new blinds.

For one thing, there are about a gazillion different types of blinds you can go with. Blinds, rollers, shades, curtains, and more. And what about color? What about design? What about fabric or material? For a man who likes committing to any one thing about as much as he likes going to the dentist, that’s way too many choices. And even once you’ve made your choice, there are a thousand different places to buy the dang things. Which is the best place to get them?

Look, folks. I’m a librarian. I like straightforward research questions with straightforward answers. “What are the best blinds for me to purchase” seems like the first, but it doesn’t have anything like the second. That said, I still gave it the old college try. It helped that Denisa made the choice with me.

In the end, we went with double-celled, light-blocking cellular shades, and we bought them from cellularwindowshades.com. Why did we make those choices? We liked the fact that these shades add some good insulation to your windows. We liked the company because they had straightforward videos describing how to measure and install the shades, and explanations about what to look for in a good shade. It also helped that they were doing 50% off for the holidays. (They’re still doing 40% off, and no, I’m not being paid at all for this endorsement. I just liked their shades.)

Unfortunately, I discovered that even once you’ve decided on which shades to get and where to get them, actually ordering them is a pain and a half. It took a whole day of my vacation, running around with a tape measure to double and then triple check sizing. If I screwed this up, it would be on me. There were false starts, where we thought we could get one kind of shade, but discovered we couldn’t (our windows aren’t level enough). There were misunderstandings about what dimensions they needed exactly. There were existential crises where I had to figure out what kind of draw string mechanism was best. (For the record, we went with the rather stupidly-named “smoothy cord loop” option, and I’m happy with the decision.)

After all of that, it still cost over $2,000 to get 16 shades for our house, and we didn’t even get all the windows covered. (We’re waiting on construction changes for some of the others. One day, kitchen. One day!)

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, the blinds came on Saturday, and I discovered it’s one thing to order the blinds. It’s another to install them. By the end, I was a blind installing machine, but it took a day to get there, and a fair bit of on-the-job learning. It also took a long time to take off the old curtains. (Anyone need some triple-layer, insulated, blackout curtains? One side of some of them are sun bleached, but the other side is pretty solid, and they still do a great job darkening and insulating a room. They’d come with all the hardware as well. Just saying . . .)

The good news is that all the blinds are up, and we’re all very happy with them. Plus, if I ever need a side job, I could probably become a “window blind consultant and installer.” So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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 the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That 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.

Upgrading My Home Theater Speakers

It’s been 12 years since I first got a surround sound system. Back then, it was a huge leap for me, and I found a good deal on a quality Onkyo system (something sort of like this one, though mine was a 7.1 system.) And for those twelve years, things have been good. My AV receiver had to be replaced about six years ago (and I expect to have to upgrade it again at some point), but it was great to have the surround sound going for my media viewing experiences.

That said, when we switched the movie room to a larger space, I noticed that the small speakers I’d gotten back in 2008 were no longer really cutting it. Especially for the voice track on films (which runs through the center channel): I had to have subtitles on for almost everything to be able to always understand what people were saying. Also, the subwoofer wasn’t as woofy as I really wanted.

So I started looking into ways to upgrade the sound. From my research, bumping up just the center speaker wouldn’t be a good idea, since it would create a really bad conflict with the front left and front right speakers. You want those paired if at all possible, so that the sound at the front of the room (where most of the sounds come from) is balanced. A bigger subwoofer is easier to get on its own. So I started looking into potential speakers and deals (because who wants to pay full price on anything?)

For a lot of the research I do into things like this, I use Reddit pretty heavily. Reddit does a great job of connecting people who are interested in the same topic, giving you a place to ask questions and read FAQs that aren’t influenced by paid reviews and salespeople. Is it perfect? No. But it’s an easy way to find quality information quickly. There’s a Home Theater reddit with a great FAQ that gives a number of recommendations around speakers.

Once I started looking at the actual recommendations, however, I discovered it was much more complicated than I initially assumed. I didn’t want bookshelf speakers–I wanted tower speakers that would be more robust. But when I looked at the actual dimensions of those suckers . . . they’re huge. Some of them are more than two feet deep and a foot wide, and the idea of having such big speakers in my room was . . . less than ideal. (Funny side story: I kept seeing the abbreviation WAF, and I had no idea what it meant. People talked about how important it was, and how it was necessary to make compromises in some cases due to WAF, but no one said what it actually meant. After some googling, I discovered it stood for “Wife Approval Factor.” Which makes a ton of sense . . .)

For a while, I was thinking I’d have to compromise with nicer bookshelf speakers, just because of size issues. But in the end, I went through all their recommendations, paying attention to the dimensions. I found some potential speakers that would work, and then checked their Black Friday deals. (Checking out the subwoofers, as well.) Long story short (too late), I found some tower speakers I liked (these, with the accompanying center speaker), as well as a subwoofer, that all were on a good 30%+ off sale, and I pulled the trigger.

Actually installing the speakers was pretty straightforward. The wiring was all there, and I just had to take off the old speakers and hook up the new ones. The difference (to me) is remarkable. The sound is much fuller and I no longer need subtitles for everything I’m watching. (Huzzah!) The subwoofer really shakes the room now when it’s called for, and it’s made my home theater feel more like a real theater.

This essentially bumps up my speaker system to “mid-range” for the primary speakers. (I’m leaving the surround speakers as Onkyos for now, because I just don’t feel like they need the extra kick.) It’s hard for me to believe I’d ever want to go to high end speakers. The cost would be 5-10 times what I just paid, and I don’t think I’d get that sort of use out of them. So for now, I’m happy to have my system where I’d like it to end up, from an audio perspective. (Ultimately, I see myself upgrading the AV receiver to an 8k model and getting a new projector at that time, as well. But that’s for the future . . .)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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 the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That 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.

Home Renovations on the Horizon

Surely you didn’t think that just because we were in the middle of a global pandemic, I’d stop doing work on my house? Because that would be just silly. No, the more immediate question would be “Can Bryce afford to do work on his house?” And as we get closer and closer to fall semester, my Magic 8 Ball is consistently saying “Signs Point to Yes.”

Some upgrades need to happen one way or another. The bay windows on our house have had issues for years. The trim is rotting in some places, and a few boards have even fallen off, leading a family of birds to move in just above Daniela’s bedroom. At times, she thinks that’s cute. But when it’s early morning and they’re all tweeting away up there, the cute seems to magically fade somehow. (And who knows what structural damage those birdies might be doing to the house . . .)

Once that’s done, that means the fresh wood will need to be painted. This is on the second floor of the house, and I have no desire to paint that myself. Plus, the trim all around the house needs to be redone, as much of it is peeling and very sad looking. And late last fall, a wind storm ripped down some of the clapboards from our addition. (They’d been put up by our heroin-addict contractor from years ago. The one who stole $3,000 from us? We keep finding lovely little presents like that. Instances where he cut corners left and right, because heroin ain’t gonna buy itself, folks.)

And of course, there remains the grand-daddy of all renovations: our plans to redo the kitchen. Those have been kicked back to September, but after looking at our finances, things still look go for launch for them. I can’t wait for this project to be over, for a number of reasons:

  • It’s going to be very expensive, and budgeting for it has been a real pain the rear.
  • It’s gotten kicked back multiple times, and each time it’s gotten kicked back, I’ve had to approach it fresh when it came time to actually prepare. I’ve spent so many hours looking at cabinets and counter tops, only to discover I couldn’t afford to do it right then. Redoing that research each time is less than fun.
  • It’s the last “big renovation” project on the house. After this one, the things we want to get done are much smaller, and they don’t necessarily have to be done in any particular order. We need to renovate the downstairs bathroom, and we’d like to redo the office. Some of the roof needs new shingles. But all of those are straightforward projects. This kitchen renovation has a ton of moving pieces.
  • It’s going to seriously disrupt our household. The kitchen is the center of our house, physically and socially. You can’t get to anywhere else without going through it. The actual act of renovating it will be seriously annoying.

So right now, I’m hoping that fall semester goes well, and that I can write a blog post by November that says “Mission Accomplished.” I think the odds are slightly in my favor of that happening, but you never know. Wish me luck.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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 the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That 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.

%d bloggers like this: