Monthly Archives: September 2011

The Commitment Ceremony

two empty chairs“It’s like a marriage,” she said. But we knew it would never be legally recognized as such. Not now, maybe not ever.

I felt myself perspiring. Even with the lights dimmed, it was hot. Plus, I was nervous. I’d never done anything like this. “What if this doesn’t work out?” I worried to myself.

We talked about the importance of trust. We discussed the importance of keeping the lines of communication open and pledged to share our concerns before our problems got too big for us to handle. It always gets ugly once the lawyers get involved. We promised to try hard to keep it from going there.

And then I signed on for the biggest renovation project of my life.

Our permits were finally approved! Demo starts on Monday!

I Have Seen the Lights

trade publications for the lighting and home fashions industry

"shelter p0rn"

I have seen the lights and they are fabulous and more energy efficient than in the past. Yesterday I had the good fortune to meet up with a new Twitter friend, Laura Van Zeyl, publisher and editorial director of Residential Lighting, Home Fashion Forecast* and Hospitality Lighting. They are all trade publications, but we all know I need all the help I can get when it comes to interior design, so I’m eager to read them. And lighting? That could be a whole blog unto itself. Hmmm. It probably is; I’ll have to search that.

I met Laura online as @ResLightingMag and immediately followed because I need to better educate myself on lighting. DH and I have talked tile, paint, cabinets, showers and appliances, but not lighting. Except to the extent that we’ve both agreed our timing is off because as a country we’re in a big shift away from incandescent lights to LED lights, with a major detour to CFLs which I consider a tool of the devil. Oh, the environmental impact of all those improperly disposed of mercury-laden CFLs. Ugh.

Laura assured me that although the industry is in a period of rapid growth and innovation,  LEDs are quickly evolving and, hooray! coming down in price. (Still, 12 -18 months from now the prices will be even better. Who knows? We may still be waiting for our permit approvals at that point….)

As our conversation continued, it dawned on that my desire to attend CES, the Housewares Show or even the Sweets and Snacks Expo suddenly paled in my comparison to to attend Lightfair. How unlike me to get distracted by a shiny object.

Where was I? Oh yes, with that stack of magazines Laura passed on to me (pictured). I’m off to read, absorb, learn. After perusing just a few pages, I’m excited to see that LED have already gone from being merely functional to being fun, elegant or dramatic depending on the manufacturer.

I know I have a lot to learn about LED lights, but I’m aware that our village or state code requires a minimum of 50% of our new permanent light fixtures to be high efficiency. We plan to install a few recessed cans in the kitchen, ceiling fan lights in the bedroom and a dining room fixture that hangs high enough that we can move the table when we’re having a big party and not have to worry about our friends Avrum and Tall Paul poking their eyes out on it. But we’ve got a lot of blanks that need to be filled in (soon!).

Do you have questions about installing or converting to energy-efficient LED lights? Any other lighting questions? Ask away in the comments; I think I know where to get you some answers.

*Speaking of home fashion forecast, I have a must-see post coming up next week. I am literally turning the window fashions industry on its head (or possibly making it fall on its bum; you’ll have to decide).

Our Appliance Order

advertisement for Jenn-air stove

clever Jenn-Air ad

Ye olde fridge is moving down to the basement and the stove is gone. Soon we’ll have a kitchen full of all new appliances. Well, after they tear down the cabinets, strip off the linoleum flooring and the subfloor and buff up the underlying oak, install new cabinets and the solid surface counter top we’ll be ready for the whole shmear- a new fridge, range, microwave and, for the first time ever in this house, a dishwasher and disposer.

Having all new appliances is both exciting (shiny!) and intimidating (how long before I chip/scratch/break them?).

We’re planning to buy from Abt Electronics because they give out fresh chocolate chip cookies on the weekends have excellent customer service.

Dear readers, you have given me great advice so far, so I want to run our choices by you. If you see a dud here, let me know before it’s too late! Here’s what we’re looking at:

Samsung 26 cu ft White French Door Bottom Freezer Refrigerator
We didn’t want in-the-door water service because my parents and we have had issue with ice dams forming that created serious problems. For my parents, it caused a meltdown that warped their wood floor. I think this Samsung has water service inside the fridge, which seems like a ridiculous waste of energy, i.e. stand at the fridge with the door open while you fill you glass with water, but we don’t plan to use the feature. I really like the freezer handle, we both like the internal LED lights, which for some reason, not all manufacturers use.

GE Profile 6.0 cu ft Freestanding Double Oven Gas Range with Self-Cleaning Oven and Center Oval Burner w/ Nonstick Griddle
I told you a griddle in the middle was all the rage again. I like that this double oven has the small oven on the bottom. So many manufacturers place the small oven on top and the large one below, which I guess is handy for baking cookies or a quick pizza, but who wants to bend down to the floor to pick up a 15 pound turkey? Not me.

Maytag 24 inch Jetclean Plus White UnderCounter Steam Dishwasher
Maybe I’ll finally use my wedding china knowing it can go in the washer on a steam cycle. (Eager brides, listen to your groom; skip the fine dishes.)

GE Spacemaker 1.8 cu ft white microhood
This will go over the stove. We’re used to this design, so I don’t think it will make the stove top feel cramped.

Whirlpool Cabrio White Top Loading Washer and Whirlpool Cabrio White front Load Gas Dryer
Call me old-fashioned, but I’m all about the top loader. That said, this isn’t your mama’s toploader. Nor is it the old Maytag that came with our house. I think I could fit in one day’s worth of one family member’s clothes and call it a full load. Hooray for modern large capacity, high efficiency washers. But not really. I’ve read that because it’s so easy to wash so much that people today do more laundry than in the past. Agreed?

So, what do you think? We good?

We’re not buying Jenn-Air, Whirlpool’s high end brand, but they get linky love for their very creative ad which had a pull-out stove (pictured above), so that consumers can literally see it in their kitchen. My arms were just a little too short to get the best effect, but you get the idea.

Edited 10/3 to add (because I can’t lose a list if it’s on my blog)

The Franke water tap lb1000, chrome

Water Filter, the Franke FRX02 (with lead removal!)

KitchenAid KCDS100T garbage disposal

And the Paint Color Winners Are…

retro curtainsThe votes are in! My hearty thanks to all of you who chimed in with your preferences and useful advice, to boot. With your help, I now have a sense of direction. As many of you cautioned, I’ll likely have to review this once the new walls are up and the old ones are down, especially because the living room/dining room color vote resulted in a tie. Yes, the top vote was split between 1A Huntington Beige and  2C Richmond Gold. Interestingly, both go with the retro dining room curtains that are currently hanging.

I  think the warmer tones will work well. Though it’s ironic that I was daring to go beyond beige and that’s what you guys brought me back to. Look for a final runoff in about two months.

In the kitchen, Audubon Russet (A), my least favorite of the trio, was the winner, but Yellow Marigold (C)was not far behind. I’ll repost once the kitchen is done because I think once you have a sense of the design and our color choices for the cabinet and such you will understand that Russet will make things way too bland even for me. (I hope!)

Up to the master bedroom and en suite bath, I’m excited about the deep Grape Juice and will let you know if that changes once the bathroom actually exists. Pilgrim Haze, Bed 1, was the winner if only because many of you didn’t want to subject my husband to life with the lovely shade named Lavender Lipstick. I agree with the many of you who suggested Pilgrim Haze was most likely to work best for the long-term (i.e. even after we get rid of the bedspread).

I was shocked when I saw the color strip with Pilgrim Haze at my local Benjamin Moore store, a place I’d surely be mayor of now if I played on FourSquare. It looked so gray! But the large sample on my wall has strong blue tones. It was a great reminder of the importance of light and place when evaluating wall colors. Which is while I’ll runs this all by you again once the new walls are in place and we’re getting ready to paint.

Thanks again!

If you’d like to follow along on our journey, “Like” Reluctant Renovator on Facebook, subscribe to this blog or Progress Notes, our monthly newsletter that serves up links to our most popular posts as well as a chance to enter product giveaways. Click to subscribe.

Disclosure: Benjamin Moore is providing me with paint for all of  the rooms of our house in exchange for me sharing my insights and experiences on the journey to painted walls. I’ve made at least four trips to my local Benjamin Moore local store in the last two weeks, garnering helpful advice and buying supplies on just about every trip.

So Much for a Refi: Sunday Shout-out

Crazy that we only just closed on our house in June and are already thinking about refinancing, but interest rates have gone down since then and thanks to that Twisty thing the Fed pulled the other day rates sank even lower. Then again, it’s possible the value of my house did as well. Even though we’ve put in $20,000 worth of plumbing upgrades.

My dad suggested we hold off until our renovation is done. Getting appraised mid-reno could hurt us and of course the value of the house will be up substantially once the work is complete.

But really, it was this post by Kim Tracy Prince, AKA Agoura Hills Mom, that scared me off from getting our house reappraised.

Have you refi’d lately?


There’s a 36-inch Hole in my Heart

oven plus stove that we soldReally, the hole is in my kitchen counter where the stove used to be. We sold the range that came with the house and we haven’t even started the gut job yet. Go Team Moldofsky! Like the St. Charles vintage metal cabinets (for which I might have a buyer), the Tappan range looks like it was top of the line for its time and remained in pretty good shape for its age. The wide, circa 1982 cream and black unit had four gas burners and a griddle in the middle. Everything old is new again- the griddle in the middle concept is all the rage right now. In fact, our new stove top will sport one. Not because I want one, but because that’s the new thang. I didn’t really have a choice.

And the industrial look?

I’m not a fan.

But that’s also still a thang.

At any rate, I totally pulled a Tom Sawyer because instead of breaking my back to haul that monster out of the house with DH, I got some other folks to do it and pay me a few bucks in the process. Score!

Yes, the unit worked although it was a bit tricky to turn off the oven. I sold it cheap.

Also, I might be responsible for the Chicago area’s newest meth lab.

Just kidding!

But really, don’t you meet interesting folks from Craigslist?

In the process of clearing out our old place, we found a Chicago-area couple (his and her architects as I recall) with a fondness for all things Braun. I think we sold items I didn’t even want to part with (*cough* Braun immersion blender that was a wedding gift *cough*) just so we’d get to hang out with them for a few minutes. Again.

Also, the money was good. I mean, if we didn’t bring in money from selling all our stuff, how could we afford to replace it all?

I’m an American, don’t mess with my logic.

I’ll be back in a few days to share the new appliances we’re planning to purchase. If you see any duds, please warn me.

empty space where our stove used to be

What is this? 30 years of dirt or more?