Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Color Consult

Saturday, March 31, 2007
Last Tuesday, Michael came to our house for the famous "color consult." When Adam told me about this, I asked him if it was really a consult or if Michael would just tell us what color our kitchen was going to be painted. He said, tactfully but evasively, "Michael feels very strongly about color." The colors I envisioned in my kitchen were some combination of a curry yellow, a sage green to echo the green in the bear grass, a pale blush pink, and maybe a lilac.
About fifteen minutes before the color consult was scheduled to begin, all the workers started packing up to leave. Jim said he thought they were afraid of Michael.
I saw how things were going to go when Michael asked if we wanted to start by picking the color of the grout for the tile above the cooktop. He held up a few grout samples, looking for just the right one. I pointed at one with a pinkish tinge. He said, "No, that won't work." He held it up to the tile; "see?" Well, I had to admit that it wasn't quite the right color. Finally, he ended up with four possibilities, and I chose the one that was marginally darker than the other three, which all looked almost exactly the same. I own that grout!
Michael then started sifting through color samples for the wall, keeping some, discarding others, in no pattern that I could discern. He started focusing on greens. "Good," I said, "I wanted something that would pick up the green in the bear grass pattern." "Yes," he said, "I'm a little surprised that I'm going for this green--sometimes green in kitchens is problematic because it makes your food look weird." Emboldened, I suggested a light pink. "No. Definitely not. No pink or red in the kitchen. Feng shui color theory, you know." (I didn't ask why the red tile was ok; I'm sure there's a reason.)
I pointed out a deep yellow. That wouldn't do. I think that was supposed to be obvious.
He settled on three colors: a rich cream, a very pale sage green, and a darker sage. He said he didn't usually like to make the windows darker than the walls, but it was right for this kitchen.
I looked longingly at a purple. "Yes," he said in a kind tone. "That's a very pretty color. We'll go with these three." I reminded him that green made food look weird. He said, "Well, if your food didn't look weird in your old kitchen, it's certainly not going to look weird in this one." Aha! The best defense is always a good offense.
The next day the painters came. I told them about my experience with the color consult. "That's Michael for you," they said affectionately. "He has strong opinions."

When we were looking at the three color samples, they all looked very different. Now that they're all on, though, I can't tell the difference between the cream on the wall and the pale green on the insides of the windows. When I look at them very carefully, and in just the right light, I can see a discernible difference. Otherwise, it just looks like cream and green.

The Flurry

Friday, March 30, 2007
When I said last week that I expected a flurry of activity, I was hoping that it wasn't just wishful thinking. It wasn't, though, and I, for the first time, I really can see an end to this project. One day this week, we actually had four different trucks here at this same time, with about eight workers getting in each other's way.
The trim got finished:

The stucco was repaired:

The backsplash was put in:

All the backsplash granite is brown, but I think it goes very well with all three different granites.

They started installing the tile that will go above the cooktop:

They cut down and reinstalled the door to the hallway closet:

This door was one of the things I was quite concerned about. I thought it would look weirdly small. In fact, I believe that I made Adam promise me that I wouldn't hate it. (I thought that was fairer than making me promise that I would like it). I actually do like its weeness, and the fact that, although small, it remains a functional closet.

And the "color consult" occurred. That deserves its own posting.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Quick Look at the Countertops

Thursday, March 22, 2006
We're going to Chicago this weekend for a quick visit to Elizabeth, who is just finishing her OB-GYN rotation and has a little time on her hands. She has ruled out being a gynecologist, by the way, and wonders why I never told her that childbirth was so disgusting and traumatic.
Anyway, I wanted to get a few pictures of the new countertops posted for those people who have been following the progress of the kitchen. Our kitchen plan specified remnant granite, which is about as green as you can get in the granite area. Somebody else buys the big slabs of granite and has them shipped from India or someplace exotic, and the remaining small pieces are up for grabs. This has the advantage of being cheaper and the disadvantage of allowing for considerably less selection. Michael periodically visited the stone places waiting for just the right thing. Finally, he said he'd found it, but it was they. That is, there were three pieces of granite that he liked: one for each wall.
I was dubious. I had never seen this done before. I reverted to my three-year-old self and extracted a promise from Adam that I would like it. Although my more mature self understands that such a promise may not be binding, it comforts me, and after Adam promised, perhaps recognizing that a promise is not the same thing as a contract and is unlikely to lead to litigation, I stopped worrying about it.

Well, now that they're in, I don't see what the fuss is about. It's more interesting than having just one color throughout the whole kitchen, and the three different colors complement each other beautifully.
The darkest color ("Black Forest") is on the wall where the stovetop will be.

These pictures don't really do the colors justice--this is a deep black with hints of blue and with silver striations.
The next wall, with the sink, which also got installed, is a brown that picks up the black from the adjoining countertop.

The east wall has "Cashmere Gold" (Or "Kashmir Gold") countertops: pale brown with rosy gold. I think it will be very dramatic when the morning sun lights it up.

These pictures don't really do the colors justice. There is a big sign on the granite warning not to touch or place anything on the surface. Whenever I walk into the room, I have to slap my hand down so I don't touch anything; it's a very touchable surface.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Calm Before the Storm

Friday, March 16, 2007
It was another quiet week. (That sentence makes me want to add "in Lake Wobegon"). But the granite countertops are scheduled to be installed on Wednesday, so I'm hoping that there will be a flurry of activity after that.
The in-floor heating system was finished and is now ready to start doing its job as soon as the plumber turns the switch or does whatever he is going to do.

They also installed a auxiliary heater under (what will be) the sink. This heater is for the few days when the in-floor heating may not be quite enough to keep it toasty warm. Michael isn't a big fan of these auxiliary heaters because apparently they make a little whirring noise that he thinks may be a distraction. But the heating installers insisted that it was necessary in Minnesota, so he OK'd it.

Jim is fairly deaf, so he probably won't hear the whirring. He's more likely to be annoyed by me saying, "What's that noise?" than he is by the noise itself.
The hardware for the cabinets has arrived and is sitting in its boxes waiting to be installed. I hope that this will happen in the next week because then I'll be able to open the various drawers and doors.

Two new shelves were also installed. I think that cookbooks will go on the top shelf, but I'm not sure about the bottom one yet.

All the doors on the pantry cabinets have now been installed. There are still some shelves for the little cubby areas that haven't been put in yet, but I think that otherwise the cabinetry is complete. I think that the original plans called for another shelf, but R.T., our carpenter, said that was news to him.

And finally, some of the trim on the cabinets was installed on Friday. The rest of the trim is part of the flurry that I'm expecting this week.


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Quick Eggs

Saturday, March 10, 2007
My breakfast is usually a piece of toast, a glass of juice, and some yogurt. Sometimes I have oatmeal. Every now and then, though, I really like an egg. stove, no egg. One day I started to wonder if I could cook an egg in the microwave. I got out my copy of The Microwave Gourmet, and found a recipe for baked eggs that I adapted. They're so fast that if I start the egg and the toast at the same time, the egg always wins. The important thing about cooking an egg in the microwave is to prick the yolk a couple of times with the tip of a knife. Otherwise, they explode. This is not just a theoretical possibility, as I learned the day I forgot that step.

1/2 t. butter
1 egg
Salt and pepper
1 T. cream or half and half
1/2 t. dried tarragon (optional)

1. Melt butter in custard cup in microwave.
2. Break egg into cup.
3. Puncture egg yolk twice with tip of sharp knife.
4. Add cream and tarragon, if desired.
5. Cover loosely with paper towel
6. Microwave on high for 45-60 seconds, depending on preferred doneness of yolk.

There are lots of ways to vary this recipe, depending on what you might have on hand. Even in my virtually refrigerator-less state, I still had some salsa and cheddar cheese, which makes a very satisfactory Saturday breakfast.

3 T. salsa, divided
1 egg
Salt and pepper
1 ounce cheese (Cheddar, Monterey jack, and feta work well)

1. Heat 2 T. salsa in custard cup.
2. Break egg on top of warm salsa.
3. Pierce yolk twice with tip of sharp knife.
4. Season with salt and pepper
5. Cover with cheese and remaining salsa.
6. Microwave on high for 45-60 seconds.

--Adapted from The Microwave Gourmet by Barbara Kafka

Friday, March 09, 2007

Stairs and Beargrass

Friday, March 9, 2007
After our new eucalyptus floor was installed, we looked at the three steps going down to the back door and realized that, although they weren't a part of the original plan, something was going to have to be done with them. Next to the newness and shininess of everything else, the old battered stairs looked shoddy and sad. We asked Adam how much it would cost to do them in Lyptus, and he gave us a price that we could live with, so we said, "go ahead."
This is a very dangerous part of a remodeling job, by the way. The rest of your house, which looked perfectly fine before, suddenly looks a little the worse for wear. How long has that dining room wallpaper been up? When did the rug in the TV room get so threadbare? And because you're spending money anyway, you think you might as well spend a little more. I'm trying to discipline myself, but, really, those stairs were just too much.
Adam said the stairs would be done at some time during the lull--the approximately three-week period between granite measure and granite install. But I was quite surprised when I came home from work, opened the back door, and found no stairs....

and, in case I missed the fact that there were no stairs and no floor, there was also a helpful "caution" tape.

But we were without stairs for only one day. The crew from Floors By Steve gave us beautiful new stairs and a new entry floor in just a few hours.

That back door really needs repainting.

Our carpenter T.R. was back from a trip to Texas to see his dad and his brother, so he stopped in one day to cut the eco-resin panels and install them in the cabinets.

The design we chose is called Beargrass Lite. There is also a Beargrass Full, which, as you might guess, has a lot more Beargrass. The company makes beautiful patterns and colors in this ecoresin.
It would make beautiful shower doors if we were to remodel our bathrooms.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

A Little More Progress

Friday, March 2, 2007
A lot of the cabinets were installed this week--enough so the granite people could come in and do a template. According to Adam, the granite installation happens about three weeks after the granite measure. Appliance installation and painting are the only major projects after the granite is installed, so we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

These are the cabinets that go above the cooktop. Some of the doors will be glass. Actually, not glass but something called ecoresin, made of recycled materials. And we're all about green--I'm just hoping that my new Prius will not cause me to gain as much weight as Al Gore has.

The empty spaces here are for the refrigerator and the oven. The oven is still sitting in our living room, waiting patiently to be installed. It's more patient than I am.
Not as much progress this week as in past weeks.
Like everyone else, the carpenters were snowed in for a couple of days. There have been a lot of complaints about the slowness of the snow removal. Like most other items in the state budget, the Transportation Department's snow removal budget has been cut. People seem surprised that the budget cuts have some correlation with efficiency.

Frieda, our good luck garden ornament, is still standing tall and perky in all the snow. I love Frieda because she seems so plucky, and also because she reminds me that large hips can be a thing of beauty.