Kitchen Renovation (Phase 4) ... How Many Phases Are There?

As you may know, John is a high school science teacher, so as of June 24th he's hit the ground running on lots of house projects. In addition to the kitchen updates I'm about to fill you in on, he's also (in less than a week!) worked on:
  • Trimming the new basement windows.
  • Created a template for the stone fabricator to cut the master vanity counter top.
  • Cut and constructed our 10 closet drawers.
He's also making good on promises to help family and friends with their own projects. Oh, and doing odd jobs for Mrs. Lynch who he loves to work for. She's the best!

OK, so back at Content., the kitchen continues to ease forward like a herd of slow moving cows. Every step is calculated, but you seriously wish a cattle prod was more humane...

I'll admit it. I do take responsibility for dragging my feet on certain design decisions. Specifically, the kitchen sink. Which I shopped for, no joke, for 4 months. I repeatedly kicked myself for including a farm sink in our American Woodmark Cabinet design.

At the time, for me at least, a farm sink seemed so necessary. For the record, John could.have.cared.less.

As I was daydreaming of our, yet to be conceived, chubby child; adorably enjoying a bubble bath in our perfect farm sink, John was likely reminding me of the added expense, which I never heard on account of all the imaginary chapping and laughter.

Now 7 months later, a farm sink seems frivolous! $700, $800!? Forget our imaginary offspring, is 800 bucks really worth spending on a vessel to rinse our dirty dishes? "Rinse", we have a dishwasher for heaven's sake!

Worth it or not, we were stuck with the decision. So, in an effort to save face I researched sinks for weeks on end. The first reality is that our "standard" 30 inch base cabinet is not made to accept a "standard" 30 inch sink. Ha. That would have just been WAY too easy. 

Instead, the installation guide called for a sink a minimum of 23 3/4" and a max of 27 15/16". And yup, you guessed it, any sink under 30 inches is incredibly difficult to find and considered special inventory. "Special" = more money. Which is interesting because now a smaller sink is more expensive. Don't get me started...

By the grace of the Internet, I was lead to a 26 inch Alfi fireclay farm sink on Amazon.  I pulled the trigger and bought it, shipped direct to the house. I consider this a small miracle!

I further consider the fact that it arrived in one piece another miracle.

Alfi 26" Fireclay Farm Sink

John stared this installation by measuring the area he needed to cut out of the base cabinet to make room for the apron front sink.

Like the old adage goes,
"Measure twice (three times if your wife is standing over your shoulder), cut once."

In this instance, John made a cardboard template because the farm sink has some natural irregularities that needed to be taken into account.

Side note, spending oodles of money on materials (in this case cabinets) and then having to cut into them is completely nerve wracking, and I'm not even the one doing the cutting!

The test fitting process went on a few more times as John worked to get the cut just right, sanding and taking off additional portions of the cabinet, until everything was snug.

Like a glove!

The kitchen counter tops have also been a challenging decision for us. We thought long and hard about this, and finally resolved to have the counter tops match the oak slab island.

We originally wanted to do stone or concrete, but based on time, budget and purely in hopes of keeping the process moving, we decided on wood. Plus, the island looks gorgeous so we knew the counter top would look great too!

John started out by making a template of the counter top layout, taking in to account the sink and corner turn.

Counter template.

Though two large slabs could have been joined to create the necessary counter depth, John chose to join three boards as he felt he could achieve a tighter seam and better ascetic.

Perfecting the diagonal corner cut!

Here's a sneak peek! More to come on the finish product in the final reveal!

The most recent project John tackled was dry fitting the new Pfister Pasadena faucet which was selected specifically to match our Aurora GE slate grey appliances. 

Here we go again, working to make everything perfect, then taking a giant drill to it....

Pfister Pasadena Faucet (slate)

Though we still have plenty of work to do on the kitchen, luckily, some of those projects will be handled by other contractors specifically our painter and plumber. Aside from that though, we will be experimenting with a brick back splash behind the stove.

Stay tuned for more updated soon!

Running the Numbers. Starting the Home Performance with Energy Star program.

Here's a little run down of Content. by the numbers:
Dated: Pre-1900
Floors: 1, plus attic & basement
Rooms: 12
Square Feet: 3,150
Windows: 50 (shout out to my sis Lulu for helping me count)
Exterior Doors: 11
Chimneys: 5
Fireplaces: 10
In a perfect world, these numbers would simply add up to (1) totally awesome house. But it's not a perfect world, and in reality these numbers equate to a huge carbon footprint and high utility bills; to the tune of $3k per winter just to heat it. Yikes!
Luckily, for us though, our families have had their fair share of home heating  experiences over the years. My family forever perfecting our pre Civil War home's radiator / wood burning stove combination, and more recently John's father's great success installing a heat pump for their CT beach house.
But, what's the right answer for our home? There are so many tried and true methods, and lots of new technologies. Opinions can get you far, but look at our numbers. Content. is no ordinary scenario.
So, driven with the fear of having to sell a kidney to heat the house and on a recommendation from our friends The Youngs, we researched the
NJ Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program (HPwES).
The gist of HPwES is certified vendors perform full home energy audits. Measuring drafts in doors and windows, insulation, performance of your heating and cooling systems and water heater; they truly get a sense of your home's efficiency or (in our case) deficiency. Filled with this knowledge, they input their findings into a regulated software, determine the percentage of savings and increased efficiency certain changes would make, and deem you eligible or ineligible for a government grant and financing.
During our audit, Kristin Del Pino, Home Performance Consultant with RSI Heating, Air Conditioning & Mechanical Services unearthed some pretty interesting finds. Most notably, the existing and drastically below standard attic insulation was wet and installed upside down, making it useless. The raccoon living in the attic was also not advisable.
Put into the system, Kristin modeled that even if we took no additional steps, sealing and replacing the attic insulation alone would provide an estimated 25% total energy savings qualifying us for the maximum incentives. Basically, a $5k grant, and up to $10k financing at 0% for 10 years. Yahhh, I get to keep both kidneys!!!
We'll anxiously await RSI's suggested plans of action (we get to review several), but until then, I recommend you check into your own home's efficiency before winter sets in. I hope for your sake you're not starting from scratch like we are, but remember there are tons of reasonable improvements that can make your home more comfortable.
Here in NJ, has tools and resources, rebates, discounts and even tax credit information you can take advantage of without spending a dime. There's also federal information that residents of any state can look into.
Being "green" and eco- conscience starts with the decisions we make at home, so make sure your biggest asset isn't working against you or the planet.