Saturday, January 13, 2007


The house we live in was an accident. It was never meant to be a house, really. My in-laws built it almost thirty years ago as cheap as they could because when their house up north sold, they were going to build their dream house. Meanwhile they had spent the entire summer living in a holiday trailer (with 5 kids), waiting. Come fall they realized the house wasn't selling and they needed something before winter, so got to work. This building (that we still call home) was originally called a *well house* on the building permit. The house up north didn't sell for years, and when it did, they didn't get as much for it as they'd hoped because the main employer in that town (a pulp mill) had laid off a huge percentage of its workers and the housing market was below flat. So they added on a little to the front of the well house so it had an indoor bathroom and changed the designation of the building to *house*.

It's now 36 feet long and 16 feet wide and shaped like a barn. The main floor walls are made of concrete block; it has minimal height ceilings throughout, and windows and doors that have outlived their usefulness as they all leak air. (This week that's pretty noticeable as it's well below freezing.)

In fact, it took a lot of years for my in-laws to install even the most basic of kitchen fittings: a countertop with shelves below it. Not one drawer in the space, other than a couple of old bedroom dressers on the far wall.

Fast forward from 1977 to 2000. Jim has always loved this forty acre parcel of land, so when his dad decided to sell and retire, we made it happen. I'd been hoping we could afford to build a brand new house, but that hasn't happened. Anymore, even though he has a decent paying job now I don't really want to pay for the additional mortgage a new house would call for. So, renovation. It's been an interesting process trying to figure out where to start...and where to end.

Almost two years ago I blogged about my kitchen here, with photos of the *cabinets* and the drawers that Jim built for me. And may I say what a huge difference those drawers have made? Incredible. You should just imagine a kitchen without any drawers at all. Go ahead. Try.

So here we are nearly two years later. We're finally ready, mentally, to start dealing with the issues of this house and there are MANY. And bless my dear husband's heart, he says, 'Let's start with the kitchen.'

The thing is--really honestly--that I have a very talented husband. He can design, build, or repair almost anything at all. It's just the timeline. We've talked on and off about him building the cabinets, and I know he could do it. I also know I'd get impatient and naggy and we'd fight. Sorry, but I've had 26 1/2 years experience with him (plus a previous full house reno) and I know how this would go. Yes, it would save money, but our marriage is worth more than money! So I'm content to pay for cabinetry.

We got a really good deal on custom cabinetry at our last house ten years ago as the economy was slow and the guy really needed the business. We now have the opposite economy and there's no way we can afford custom. So we've been looking at cabinetry options through Home Depot and Home Building Centre. Our favorites (yes, we AGREE!!!) are these hickory cabinets from Thomasville through Home Depot. I've been fine-tuning the layout and should have final pricing back in about a week. We've done some ball-park pricing already so hopefully it won't be too nasty a surprise!

The website says a 4-6 week waiting period, but all of western Canada has a booming economy so I wasn't surprised to learn that the actual waiting period is currently 10-12 weeks. That puts installs into April or even May, but with luck will be before the spring farmwork takes over all Jim's spare time. He does have the electrical work to do and the installation, plus countertops, and there's no point in getting carried away with the electrical until we're in rip-out mode. With concrete block walls, electrical is pretty hard to hide. The sink stays in the same place so the plumbing won't be an issue (though the dishwasher will move). His dad is a retired gas-fitter and will move the gas range for me; he's already said my new location will be easy enough, and because he did all the original work, he knows where all the runs are and how best to alter them.

We're still debating whether we're going to replace appliances at the same time. The dishwasher is junk; it needs to go. My microwave is 18 years old and needs replacing. The fridge is plain jane, but hey, it works fine, and the gas range was top of the line in its day and I don't have any complaints about it even though it's probably 15 years old or more. I'm guessing we'll see where the cabinet pricing lands and that may sway the appliance decision.

And working in flooring, I have already bought a roll of lino for the reno! Got a steal of a deal, too. The laminate we want in the living room will be below cost thanks to supplier to employee direct discounts, and same with ceramic tiles for backsplash (and the upcoming bathroom reno).

So it'll be an interesting time frame here. Looking forward to getting things rolling.


Hanna said...

I'm so excited to see how it turns out. Yay for actual cabinets!

Random Walk Writer said...

Yeah, I suppose that after that long a marriage, you could see the trouble brewing with nagging and so forth.

And I cannot imagine a kitchen without drawers. That's just insane.

It looks like a big project. Good luck with it.

*And I think I figured out how to make it let me use my Blog ID!*

Jean said...

Appliances tend to age well. If you're happy with them, keep 'em. Our kitchen stove is an antique Kenmore from the 50s, and we can't imagine how we'd get the same features it has today without spending the equivalent of a small country's gross national product.

About 4 years ago, our $15 garage sale dishwasher that we'd been using for about 15 years gave up the ghost and we replaced it with a gorgeous one -- no knobs, just touch pads and quiet? Oh, it's quiet.

Fingers crossed that your cabinetry arrives at a good time for you.

Karenee said...

Woohoo! Cabinetry! Love ya.

Katya said...

Those are beautiful cabinets! I am sure that you will love them, and that they will last you a long time. As for the appliances, I would replace only those you need to, but buy a colour (like white) that's easy to match to, so when the others go (in 10 years or more) you won't have to replace them all... of course, unless you don't care, which is fine too.

One nice, affordable luxury that you might want to consider for your bathroom are the tile heating mats. They sit under the ceramic tile, and are electric heaters for in front of the sink or the toilet. They aren't too expensive to purchase and pretty easy to install - right into the thinset. I don't know if your bathroom is still really cold, but it might be a nice luxury that's rather affordable (you end up putting a dial on the wall to control the heat settings).

Anyway, I hope that the cabinets come in during a good time for you.!

Jen said...

Yea for Val! I am so excited for you guys.

I agree with Kait, that heated flooring in the bathroom would be great! (Basically I would love it when we come to stay, because yes, that bathroom gets quite chilly.)

Are you guys able to use the discount from Craig too?

Valerie Comer said...

Thanks everyone! We're waiting for final numbers on the cabinetry before making a final decision on appliances.

As for the heated bathroom floor, right now (in this cold snap) it would be awesome. Not sure though. The longterm plan is for the main floor bath to become a powder room and the full bath to move upstairs. Not this week, however... :P