Monthly Archives: August 2011

The Best Countertop Surface

laminate countertops chip

One downside of laminate is that it chips.

There really isn’t a single best countertop surface, each one has its good and bad points. This chart provides a great overview of them all. At first we talked about having laminate surfaces in our new kitchen, largely because Wilsonart, a leading manufacturer of laminate surfacing, has sponsored the Type -A Mom/Type-A Parent Conference for bloggers. I learned from them that laminate has changed since the days of the bright goldenrod countertops of my youth. Indeed, laminate is inexpensive and I argued to DH that if we didn’t like the look, we could afford to change it in a few years.

Among many of my friends and family, granite is the thing, but I wasn’t quite sold on it due to the higher cost in addition to maintenance issues.

Also, there’s not really, but potentially kind sorta an issue with radon and radioactivity with some granite. Ironically, it was a specialty granite salesman who told me this in an attempt to scare me away from what he perceived to be the lower quality and possibly dangerous granite available through big box retailers.

But it’s mostly the price that keeps me away from granite. Once we go there, we are never going back. I guess I’m just not good at commitment (though I have been with hubs for 20 years; however, he’s still under warranty).

When it comes to pricing, the many surface choices exists on a continuum, except for the newer “green” stuff, which all seems to be outrageously expensive. So a high end laminate is not far off  the price of a low end solid surface, and a high end solid surface might actually cost more than some varieties of granite.

As we finalize our kitchen design choices, we’re leaning toward a manufactured solid surface along the lines of Corian (copyright, trademark, etc.), likely in a sandy neutral color.

Any advice for? Do you have a countertop that you love or hate?

My Date with Ty Pennington. Plus Anissa Mayhew and a Public Service Announcement for Chicago Mombloggers

Kim Moldofsky using a band saw Reluctant Renovator

Me rocking the band saw at a blogger summit at the Craftsman Experience

Good thing I have a @RenovatorKim outfit because otherwise I’d be obsessing over what to wear on my date with Ty Pennington this Thursday night. Yes, the Ty Pennington of Trading Spaces and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition!

Well, okay, it’s a not exactly a date, but Ty and I will have an intimate one-on-one conversation in a quiet corner of the Craftsman Experience in Chicago. The Craftsman Experience is one year old and the product showcase/demo space/adult playground is celebrating with Ty and other A-list guests. Including me! And possibly you, if you make it to the bottom of this post.

Ty will be my first Design Spaz celebrity guest; I’m certain he’s as excited as I am. Though really, there’s no need for him to be nervous. I’m just like regular people.

Craftswomen womens bathroom at Craftsman studios


Now the part about Anissa Mayhew (after a bit more about me)

As I was brainstorming what to ask Ty (Is it true you were diagnosed with ADHD at age 17? Does this mean your mother is a martyr or a saint? Do you think I have ADHD? Oh look, at that shiny tool over there!), I settled on a question or two about items from his book Good Design can Change Your Life that I’d like to replicate.

But like any caring blogger, I put the question out to my community. You know, “Hey I’m interviewing Ty Pennington soon; what should I ask him?”

And less than five minutes later, the wonderful Melisa “with one s” Wells chimed in:

Anissaa Mayhew has a question for Ty Pennington

You could ask him why they haven’t chosen Anissa Mayhew‘s family for a Home makeover yet…. 🙂

You see, Anissa and her family have been through a lot of hard times and she serves as an inspiration to us all, except when she’s just making us laugh, because then we nearly pee our pants. Click on her name above, plan to spend an hour on her sites and bring a few tissues, just in case.

So I asked my people what they want and they made it clear: they want me to present a case for the Mayhew Family to get a home makeover.

They want to know that Anissa (a survivor of multiple strokes, in case you didn’t click) can comfort her daughter (a young cancer survivor; did you not click?!) in the middle of the night, which isn’t possible now because Anissa’s wheelchair doesn’t fit through her daughter’s doorway. The house could use a few other fixes to make it more accessible to Anissa. And her husband Peter dreams of a backyard therapy pool for Anissa.

With thousands of social media peeps backing her up, an Extreme Makeover: Home Edition episode featuring the Mayhews would certainly trend on Twitter in additional to receiving loads of blog coverage and site volunteers, to boot.

But I don’t want to simply ambush my new boyfriend Ty, after all, I’ll be meeting him as his dream date a semi-professional member of the media.

I’m not going to the full assault, but I promised I would deliver all messages left on the Reluctant Renovator Facebook page. Of which there were many.

And then even more more appeared.

Anissa’s minions took over my Facebook page and it’s actually pretty fabulous. Just like Anissa and her family.

I asked. You answered. I will print out every comment for Ty.  I will be a proud messenger.

(But maybe people should also chime in on the EMHE official page? Just in case.)


And now for a public service announcement:

This is also based on Facebook comments. I’m looking at you Lisa and Kris.

Guess what? Everyone is welcome to mingle with Ty at the Craftsman Experience anniversary party! The event is free and open to the public from 6 pm – 9 pm and includes drinks and appetizers. Guests will have a chance to mingle with Ty and participate in head-to-head DIY challenges with personalities such as Erik Buell, and HGTV host Frank Fontana. The entire event will be live streamed over the Craftsman Facebook page, but join in IRL if you can.

Let me know if you will be there and if you have any suggestions for my interview with Ty.

What Color Should I Paint…My Mixer?

I’ve having enough trouble choosing colors for my walls that I hadn’t even stopped to think about what color to paint my stand mixer. Actually, I hadn’t even considered painting it, until I saw these droolworthy Kitchen Aid mixers  from Un Amore by Nicole Dinardo, as pointed out by Ree, The Pioneer Woman.

They are stunning.

I think they fall into the category, “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” But I see Nicole also sells decals, so the masses can DIY their way to a mixer than makes a statement for under $25.00. Go ahead, pimp your mixer!

I’d totally get those flames if they matches the paint in the kitchen. But actually, I’d need to get a stand mixer, too.

I sold ours a couple of years ago. I’m all about the strong arm and the wooden spoon. Unless I’m whipping up meringue or something, I do it by hand. Or, as I like to say almost all my cookies come with hand jobs.

Actually, that’s the first time I ever said that.

How about you? I mean, do you have a stand mixer? More importantly, how often do you use it? Should I get a new one?


Design Spaz World Premiere!

My foray into vlogging, video blogging, began with my not-ready for HGTV house-hunting series, Property Sluts (you know, like the show Property Virgins, but we’re experienced, yo) and now I’m pleased to announce my latest oevre, Design Spaz. For me, every design decision is a challenge. And one of the great things about our meeting with Evelyn, the design coordinator provided by Benjamin Moore Paints- the official paint sponsor of Casa de Renovation*, was the affirmation that our situation would be challenging for most people because we are starting from scratch.

For example, we could choose paint to match the kitchen counter, but we haven’t chosen a counter top yet.

Our paint could really highlight the subtle colors in our bedspread–if we had one.

It’s all so “chicken and egg” to me. We can’t make one decision until we’ve made another decision, but which design decision do we make first?

In the video, Evelyn talks to us about using color to highlight accessories in the room. Typically, this Design Spaz goes for the neutral palette, leaving the accessories to stand out and speak for themselves. Evelyn is challenging us to Go Bold with our walls.

She used examples from catalogs to come up with a bolder set of colors and explained that the reason the backgrounds in say, furniture catalogs, are so bland is because they want the furniture to stand out. They are selling furniture, not wall paint. D’uh, so obvious, right? But I’d never really thought about that.

And speaking of selling, the walls in our old home were boring, because we never felt certain it was our “forever” home. We kept things bland and neutral. This, people, is our coffin house (as in, that’s how we plan to leave it), so we’re determined to have fun and make it our own–except that we’re going to let you vote on our colors.

Evelyn left us with a bit of homework:

1) Choose our counter tops (which we’ve sort of done; we know they will be Corian or a Corian-like solid surface, likely a fairly neutral sandy color).

2) Find a comforter, so we can talk about the bedroom. (It might be worth mentioning that several of our bedrooms walls haven’t even been built yet, but that’s another story.) We hit up high-end stores like Kohls, Bed, Bath and Beyond**, and Target. As DH and I pondered our options, Evelyn’s design advice was running through my mind. I guess it was obvious because at one point, DH looked at one of my selections and said, “That doesn’t seem like our style. Are you trying to impress the designer?” Busted! In the end, I purchased three comforters that we like (or DH finds acceptable) and we’ll run them by Evelyn, taking her advice before making our final choice.

I’m looking forward to our next meeting. It was so informative to meet with a person who sees our space in a way that we do not. Can not. She got us thinking about the ways the rooms blend together, views from one room to another and so much more. It was great.

BTW, at my upcoming real-life event with Benjamin Moore Paints, one lucky guest will win a free color consultation from the brand. If you’re one of my local peeps, but haven’t received the invite, drop me a note. You’re all welcome to join in!

* Benjamin Moore Paints will be providing paint and painting advice to us on our journey to painted walls. All opinions are my own.

** Did you know this blog was almost called “Bed, Bath and Way Beyond”? I own the url, but was afraid of getting a cease and desist notice from BBB’s legal team, so I stuck with Reluctant Renovator.

Your Mama Wears Combat Boots

Reluctant Renovator work boots

Good wishes from @Bonggamom on my boots

Or maybe work boots. Like me. The proper pair of shoes are essential for an special occasion, including a renovation. I own a lovely pair of leather work boots, made even lovelier by comments from by blog friends. Seriously, these shoes are like a Who’s Who of the blogosphere; they have more comments than my typical blog posts. (Note to self: shoes should not have more comments than blogs; work on that.)

The fabulous bloggers who have signed on to Project Glam My Work Boots include:

Elisa Camhort of BlogHer

PunditMom (I’m a contributor to her book, Mothers of Intention)

Robin Plemmons


Deb Rox


Darryle Pollack

Ana Picazzo

and more!

Now I can walk around with my blog friends, IRL. How cool is that? Space is still available, but filling up quickly. I can always find a spot for you, though.

Reluctant Renovator work shoes

"Balls to the wall" is Robin's tagline, I don't think she was offering decorating advice.

Fire Pits and Friends

I promised my boys a day away from the computer and I’m failing miserably, so  today I’m sending you over to read about my friend Rita’s recently completed fire pit–it’s an outdoor s’more room! Part 1 includes the supply list (very creative) and part 2 show the finished fire pit.

If she can do it, I can do it; right? I’ll save this for 2012, which will be the year of landscaping.