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New Kitchen: The Delta ToucH20 Faucet

September 30, 2010

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Delta Faucet company graciously gave me a Delta Pilar Pull-down Faucet with ToucH20 Technology. We absolutely love this faucet! I am a Delta fan, anyway– when we moved to this house, the bathrooms had Delta faucets (old Delta faucets, because the bathrooms had been remodeled in the 1970s and 80s). They work marvelously, after all these years– not a leak and they still look great after decades of washing and use. I was pretty impressed. So when Delta asked me if I wanted to test out their new kitchen faucet, I jumped at the chance.

It also looks stunning in the new kitchen:

DeltaH20_5
DeltaH20_1

We installed the faucet ourselves (as we have everything here). The installation was very easy. It’s always helpful to install the faucet before placing the sink onto the countertop. But the Delta faucet is structured to be easy to install for new installations, or for old– it requires NO basin wrench! Hurray!

deltafaucet connect

Delta Faucet connections

Delta Faucet almost installed

deltafaucetgoingin

The faucet has a few very unique features:

  • It’s got a very high and wide faucet spigot, which makes it great for filling large pots.
  • The “touch” technology is just that– you do not need to push the lever to turn on the water. All you do is touch the faucet or the lever to turn on the water. It’s great when your hands are dirty or sticky.
  • The spigot has a removable sprayer, which is very nice. The end of the spigot has a button that you can switch from stream or spray. The sprayer reattaches to the spigot with a magnet (Delta’s “MagnaTite technology”).
  • The faucet comes with a terrific soap dispenser that you can fill from the TOP of the sink! I love that. No more handsoap sitting messily on the counter.

DeltaH20_3

DeltaH20_2

The Touch feature is battery operated (takes “C” batteries). The electrical component in installed under the sink, in the cabinet. I have had the batteries running for three weeks now, and haven’t had to change them yet. So it’s nice to know the faucet is not a battery-consuming monster. Moreover, if you prefer not to use the touch technology, just shut it off and use the lever as you would any other sink faucet. It’s great that there’s a choice.

DeltaH20_4

The Hubs said the instructions for installing the sink are superb. He didn’t have any problems understanding them at all. He does have one tip when reading the instructions: make sure you read the ENTIRE section before you begin doing anything. A section may have a “Note” at the end, which may be important. So read through the instructions entirely before beginning, and then read each section through as you install the faucet.

We installed the faucet in a matter of minutes. I was PRETTY impressed. Delta has made this faucet a real easy “do it yourself” project. Even the wiring for the touch feature was easy– you just plug in a few plastic receptacles and pop in the batteries, easy as cake. I think Delta did a great job in putting this together for the DIYer.

When we first got the faucet installed and activated the Touch technology, we wondered if the cat would activate it, or if the faucet would be overly sensitive. So far, it’s been great. Sometimes I have to really rap on the spigot to turn the faucet on, but the lever is more sensitive (so I tap the lever instead of the faucet). One time, a metal pot in the dish drainer shifted, and touched the lever. The water turned on. It was weird seeing the water turn on automatically! But Delta has an automatic shutoff for the faucet– the faucet will turn off after four minutes, in case the faucet is accidentally turned on (say, by a cat or a wayward pot!).

Delta has an entire webpage dedicated to the faucet at deltafaucet.com. You will find helpful installation videos. I give HUGE kudos to Delta for creating such a nice faucet, but also DOUBLE HUGE kudos for making it so easy to install, and for providing installation videos. They really did an excellent job.

After having it installed for over two weeks, here are my thoughts:

PROS:
ToucH20 Technology
Nice big, round spigot
The nice hand dispenser
Very attractive
Can use the battery-powered ToucH technology, or turn it off to use manually as you would a regular faucet
Automatic shut-off after 4 minutes
Easy to install/great instructions in ENGLISH written by people with ENGLISH as their FIRST language- yay!
Is made by Delta

CONS:
Sprayer doesn’t have super-powerful water pressure; it’s more like a shower. Don’t expect to blast greasy dishes clean.
Uses batteries
Is a little costly
The stainless steel finish is “OK.” I’m not a big fan of steel. The faucet does come in a bronze finish, too.

One other note– you may become very spoiled after installing this faucet. So spoiled that if you use another faucet elsewhere in the house, or go to a friend’s house, you will be tapping the faucets and wondering why they don’t turn on. This is a great faucet and I give it a big Thumbs Up.

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New Kitchen: The Island Workhorse

September 29, 2010

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Chuck from SecondaryRds.com noticed my island in the new kitchen. So I thought I’d mention it. šŸ˜€

Island

The island is a big one, on great big casters. I cut a portion of the butcher block countertop slab to fit on it. Originally, I was going to use a simple table or maybe construct a table of my own, using the butcher block as a tabletop. But as the renovation dragged on, and my list of Things To Do grew larger and larger, I decided to shell out the bucks and get one. I bought this island at my local Bargain Outlet (a chain of discount materials here in the Northeast). It cost a heck of a lot of money: $240. For that amount, I expected the materials to be first-rate and the instructions to be a breeze.

NOT.

The instructions were TERRIBLE. We had to take it apart three times due to poor or missing instructions. And the material is “OK.” But one of the stiles had been obviously cracked during manufacture, and had been glued together at the factory (in China).

TheKitchen2

We love the island– the concept of an island– and we made new parts of sturdier wood to make this work. So I don’t intend to complain about the island, per se. I just expected a lot more for my money. I wouldn’t recommend this particular island (it’s “Sunnywood”), but I do recommend the style: a big box of shelf boards with cabinet doors, and a sturdy wood countertop. We love our kitchen island for this. šŸ™‚ It also helps to direct traffic and keep passers by out of the work area. AND it makes a terrific barrier with which to play hide and seek with Livvy. šŸ˜€

TheKitchen1

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New Kitchen: The Beverage Center

September 28, 2010

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While designing the kitchen, I had complete creative freedom. Of course, I did have some limits: the door here, the drains there, etc. But overall, I had an open space 12 x 23 feet to tinker with. Oddly enough, the floor plan I eventually ended up with strongly resembles the floor plan I originally sketched shortly after we moved here, over 10 years ago.

One new feature, however, is our “Beverage Center.” The kids are tea and coffee drinkers (as are their parents šŸ™‚ ), and the old kitchen was so cramped with all six of us trying to cook, clean, and make tea/coffee. I wanted to avoid the traffic jams. I therefore decided to eliminate a small, dark, and cramped pantry closet under the stairs. I closed it up and built a small alcove with cabinets. The cabinets store our teas, coffees, mugs, and etc. It’s also a place where the kids make their own snacks and lunches. I inserted a small refrigerator under the counter for the storage of coffee creamers, lunch and snack foods, and cat foods.

BeveragArea

The base cabinet drawers hold the dinner silverware, which is a dream come true. The kids usually set the table for dinner; the silverware and other dinner serving dishes are now conveniently located in the walkway between the kitchen and dining room. No more elbowing each other to get to the silverware and dishes!

BeverageArea

To the left in this photo is our new (and unfinished) pantry shelf. I have yet to craft wood cabinet doors for the pantry… I cannot find any doors for it, and will have to make my own. But because my time is so filled up with more important projects (we still have no clothes dryer and still have no heaters installed), the pantry will have to wait.

BevAreaCounter

I also opted for butcher block countertops for this area of the kitchen, too. I was initially hesitant to do so, knowing that the kids may be forgetful or in a hurry. Standing water and food stains are the enemies of wood countertops. But I was very pleased with the results of Waterlox on the counters. And the kids have been wonderfully careful about keeping their area neat.

I’ll be blogging more about the little details in the kitchen in posts to come. šŸ™‚ Thanks for reading!

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I Love Wood Countertops

September 23, 2010

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We’ve had a few curious guests drop in since we’ve started putting the house back together. Ever single person has commented on the gorgeous wood countertops (and even the photos of the counters receive praise from blog readers).

I LOVE my butcher block countertop. I had read all the pros and cons– some folks giving warnings about water damage and high maintenance. I have not had any problems with it. Sure, it’s more maintenance than the junky old laminate counters we had… but what’s so wrong about making the kids clean up the counters immediately after they use them? šŸ˜€

I slathered Waterlox on the counters. It has really made the difference. It’s a sealer/finisher type product. The wood absorbs the sealer, and it’s water-resistant. It’s very expensive stuff, and I’ll have to re-do the counters when the Waterlox wears off, but it’s very easy to put on, and it makes the counters look gorgeous.

BarleySoup&Bread

You can see the beautiful grain of maple. Ahhh!

The wood adds a very warm ambiance to the kitchen.

Island 2

I just LOVE the wood.

You can see a glimpse of my cast iron sink in the background. We originally had a stainless steel kitchen sink, and it was “OK,” but I don’t really like the metal color. I like white sinks. The cast iron is very nice– I haven’t had a cast iron in decades– so I’m still getting used to how hard it is. The stainless steel had some “give”; no such luck with cast iron.

We’re wrapping up a LOT of loose ends this week. The kitchen still needs to be organized properly (we’re storing a lot of stuff on the gorgeous butcher block countertops right now), the dining room stuff unpacked, AND I have plans to re-paint the living room. I also hope to finish the baseboards and trim that I never finished, 3 years ago…

I cannot WAIT til it’s all over, and I can finally relax in my nice pink adirondack chair, sipping coffee and listening to the birds again. Wow. It will be SO worth it.

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Our Dishwasher Dream…

September 16, 2010

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…came true!

A little background: We are a family of six. For over a year, I babysat several kids, making it TEN people to cook for, and to clean for. Imagine the humungous stacks of dishes we had to wash every single day. We couldn’t renovate the kitchen at that time, and there was no room in the kitchen to shoehorn a dishwasher. We washed and washed and washed by hand.

My kids prayed and prayed for a dishwasher, prayed and prayed for a kitchen renovation…

Ladies and gentlemen— I’d like to introduce to you—-

dishwasher90273

Our new baby!

We went without a kitchen sink for over a week before getting this in (the kids were washing dishes in the bathtub!). The first night The Hubs rigged it up, the kids and I grabbed the chairs and placed them in a circle around the kitchen. You’d think we were gearing up to buy gold coins or something! We switched it on, and — GLORIOUSLY — the machine started. It WASHED the DISHES! What a monumental moment!!!

Yeah, I’m a little exuberant. If you had to wash mounds of dirty dishes in a bathtub, you’d be a little excited, too, I’ll bet. šŸ˜€

I purposely purchased the cheapest dishwasher I could find, online. It’s a HotPoint. No fancy buttons, no fancy doodads, no special heating element. It’s a super-simple barebones machine. I had heard some stories about folks spending several hundred dollars on fancier models, only to have the fancy models croak quickly. Those electronic panels on the fancy models seems to fry very easily. That makes sense– the dishwasher generates a lot of heat with water, creating steam. Water is the enemy of electronics…

Anyway, there’s only one option on this machine: WASH. There is a toggle switch for heated dry or not, too. We tried both, and the heated dry does dry the dishes a little faster. The kids want to use it, so it’s fine with me.

I LOVE MY DISHWASHER. Glory to God, our prayers are answered. o/

By the way, here’s a frugal tip for keeping your dishwasher in tip-top shape: instead of using commercially-made rinse-cycle liquids, use white vinegar. It will keep the dishes spotless and squeaky clean, while at the same time keeping mineral deposits from clogging the inside.

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Moving In!

September 10, 2010

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We are ALMOST DONE. ALMOST. Oh my word, I was starting to wonder if I was ever, finally, going to be able to say that. It has been QUITE the wild 4-month ride. We are at the brink of exhaustion now. If I don’t take the kids for a vacation after this, I am a very bad mother indeed. They have been fabulous. I still have to finish a lot of trim work, get the washer and dryer in the house, and do the dining room floor and move the furniture into that…. but we moved into the kitchen yesterday! Yippee! No more cooking in the bat-infested garage!!!

movinginkitchen2

Daughter looks happy, but so tired. Marg, we WILL take your advice and take a break soon!

I will have more photos on our kitchen setup later. I am too tired to take them, lol. This was quite the journey. We have done EVERYTHING ourselves: electrical, plumbing, insulation, subfloors, sheetrock, spackling, painting, cabinet and counter installation, appliance installations, gas lines, everything. I think the angels are singing for joy that we accomplished this, and still survived. It feels GOOD. But I am exhausted. This was a lot of work. A LOT. I took the DIY to the extreme here. And if it wasn’t for some awesome guys from my church who helped with a lot of the grunt work around here… I’m afraid to think of what condition we’d be in! I am eternally grateful to those guys, and to you bloggers who cheered us on in the sidelines. šŸ™‚ *sigh of relief*

I started doing this myself, if you recall, because I could find no contractor who was willing to help me on such a “small” project. It started with my living room renovation, three years ago. All I wanted to do was tear down the walls, insulate, and hang new walls and floors. But the bad condition of the electrical system terrified me. I couldn’t close up the walls with the electric in such bad shape. So I spent a few days, calling professionals out of the yellow pages. I could find NO ONE who would help me– New York State is a big union state, and they want to make the big bucks. This was also during the housing boom (before it bust later), and my little project was small fry compared to the McMansions up the road. So I learned to do the electric myself.

It was an adventure, wiring was not too difficult…. but honestly, I am getting too old for this. We still have the upstairs and the downstairs bathroom to do. I think I may look into home improvement services for the difficult jobs next time, or maybe the kids will be old enough then to fully take over the jobs. I will DEFINITELY hire out for the sheetrock installation. What a job. I think doing all the sheetrock for 3-4 four weeks is what led to my fatigue. We also have to install new siding for this old house (believe it or not, it still has the original 1855 wood clapboards below a layer of asbestos-fiber cement siding!), new windows, and do the front lawn. I will definitely find home improvement services to install siding and windows. That’s just too tiresome and technical for me.

Anyway, it’s been a wild ride. Thank God, it is finally starting to slow down. I figure I have about another 3-4 weeks of trimwork and little jobs, after I install the flooring. Then, we REST. Oh boy oh boy, do we rest!

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A Terrific Weekend! The End is Near! Well, Nearer…

September 6, 2010

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We are ACTUALLY talking about MOVING BACK into the kitchen this week!!! Oh my word!!!

We had a great weekend– very hectic, and I’m still sore as anything– but the room is beginning to look like a kitchen again.

Firstly, I got the flooring installed.

Vinyl Flooring

It’s TrafficMaster Allure flooring. It’s “OK.” It installed very easily (it took me a while to figure out how to do it– but once I ignored the advice of the “experts” and did it my way, it went much smoother). It took me about 10 hours to do a 12 x 23 square foot room. Yeah, I’m still sore. :-p A soak in a warm bath would help. Oooo, my knees and hands!

The bummer is that before I had even finished installing the flooring, it got a tear in the surface!! I was pretty upset. We have a small refrigerator (one of those tiny things) and it has caster feet, but there must be a sharp piece of metal poking down somewhere. Because when I pushed the fridge a little, it snagged on the floor. šŸ™ Now I have to fix the plank. But it is fixable, thank God. I’ll have more on our adventure with that, as well as a review of TrafficMaster Allure, in the near future.

We also got half the sink installation completed!!! Hurray!!!!

deltafaucetgoingin

We’ve been without a kitchen sink for over a week. It is no fun doing dishes in the bathtub. NO FUN. My poor kids. But today, we hope to finish the sink installation, and maybe even get a dishwasher rigged up!!!! *happy dance*

The faucet we have is the Delta Touch20 Technology faucet. The kids LOVE it. You touch it to turn it on. The faucet technology is brilliantly designed.

Delta Faucet almost installed

Delta gave me this faucet, to show you all how it is installed and how it works. I’ll have a more thorough review of the faucet in an upcoming post. Right now I’m so excited that I couldn’t keep myself from mentioning it! We’re almost there!

Delta Faucet almost there

In other great news, our lighting electrical problem is solved. If you recall, two weeks ago, we accidentally broke through a wire while laying the flooring underlayment (the subfloor is more narrow in that section of the kitchen, and the screw *just happened* to go through the wire at that EXACT spot! Grr). That caused a short circuit, and the lights went out. But we fixed it that evening, or so we thought. It worked briefly, then went out again. ??? I was fretting that we would have to tear out our freshly-installed walls to re-wire the circuit again….. *shudder* … but yesterday, we found the problem— when we repaired the wire last week, we drove in the clamp too tightly, and broke through THAT wire. :S It must have been because we were so tired and in a hurry (it was late when we tried to fix it). So everything is fixed and working again. But I admit that I do now have a phobia about drilling into the walls and floors! :S

So the end is nearing. This week, we hope to get the stove, sink, dishwasher, and fridge in the kitchen and running. Next week, I have to work on all the trimwork (and there is a TON of it, especially in the dining room), and install the flooring in there.

To Do:

Laundry Alcove
Finish trim work in laundry alcove
Install shelves in laundry alcove
Install clothes dryer vent
Install gas line to dryer
Install washing machine

Kitchen
Install remaining four cabinets
Install toe kicks for cabinets
Install baseboard moulding
Touch up walls with paint
Install window pediment trim to both windows
Apply polyurethane to window trim
Paint other window
Apply Waterlox sealer to butcher block countertops
Install countertop for beverage area alcove, and treat with Waterlox
Install stove range
Install Delta Touch20 sink
Install dishwasher
Read instructions to learn how to use dishwasher
Clean out large refrigerator, and bring back into kitchen
Clean out small refrigerator, and plug in
Install telephone wiring in kitchen
Install network control panel/ethernet cabling in kitchen
Build large cabinet area under the stairs
Finish the pantry closet under stairs (paint, install shelves)
Install trim around cabinet area and pantry under stairs
Install gas space heater and gas line to heater

Dining Room
Install trim around four windows and six doorways (gulp)
Install crown moulding
Install baseboard moulding
Install shelves in coat closet
Install trim work around broom closet
Install flooring in Dining Room and coat closet
Install gas space heater and gas line to heater

The Rest of the House
Move furniture out of Living Room and back into Dining Room (china cabinet, bookshelves, sideboard)
Move bookshelves out of kids’ bedrooms and back into Living Room (including boxes of books)
Install gas space heater in Living Room, and gas line to heater
CLEAN EVERYTHING!!! Windows, walls, floors, furniture, curtains, linens, carpets…
Move my desk back into position and thoroughly clean and organize the disastrous mess of papers and junk all over the place….

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The Butcher Block Countertop Installation Experience

September 2, 2010

7 Comments

Well, that’s an SEO-laden title, isn’t it? :-p

In a word: IT’S OVER.

It was actually “not too bad.” The anxiety leading up to it was INTENSE, however. I am so glad it’s over. Of course, I have a small 4-foot area to do on the other side, and an island to build with the same countertop, but I am a seasoned veteran now. And THANK THE LORD I do not have to make another sink cut-out hole.

installbutcherblock1

This portion of countertop was 12 feet long, weighing roughly 300 pounds. Four of us hauled it from its storage spot in the living room to the kitchen, on saw horses. From there I measured (and measured and measured and measured), and cut.

I also had to cut furring strips (I opted for stronger 3/4″ plywood strips) and secure them to the cabinet bases. I drilled half-inch holes in them with my spade bit. When we lay the countertop on the base cabinets, I will screw through these furring strips’ holes with a wood screw and washer, and into the underside of the countertop. The reason for this is to allow for the contraction and expansion of the wood countertop throughout the year. The wood can expand and contract as much as 3/8 of an inch from summer to winter; securing washers and screws through large holes allow for the wood to move on the cabinets as it expands/contracts. Failure to do this can cause warping and cracking of the wood. NEVER glue or screw in a wood countertop.

installbutcherblock2

After finagaling with furring strips and scerws for a while, we set the countertop on the cabinets, and secured it.

HALLELUJAH it worked!!

installbutcherblock3

Note the shoes taken off and the exhausted kid lying on the counter....

We collapsed for a while after this. It wasn’t a very difficult job, but like I said, the anxiety of doing it *perfectly* had drained our energy. I knew the hardest job lay before me yet: cutting the hole for the sink.

Cutting the sink hole requires exact measuring. If I went too far back, I would cut into the back of the cabinet, and– worse still– cut too far back for the new Delta faucet install. If I cut too close to the front, I would slice into the support stiles of the cabinet. My new Kohler cast iron sink came with a very helpful template. Believe me, I spent about an hour measuring and centering that piece of paper.

installsink1

Finally, I decided to take the plunge.

*DEEP BREATH*

I drilled a starter hole with my spade bit. Then, I set my Black & Decker jigsaw (my new one!) to cut the hole.

IT TOOK FOREVER to cut through the hard maple. Holy cow. I burned through three jigsaw blades, and the wood was smoking. The kids helped me keep the tool steady, and held the flashlight so I could see (we still have no electric lights in the kitchen). When we reached the end of the cut, I screwed a scrap piece of wood across the top, to prevent the heavy cutout piece from collapsing into the cabinet.

butcherblockcutout

It took three of us to haul that heavy piece out of the hole! I strained my back a little, doing so. :-p It was wedged in there tightly. But we finally grappled it out. I’ll clean it up and use it for a future cutting board.

Taaadddaaaaa!!!!

installsink2

We hauled the heavy cast iron sink (like, 150 pounds?!) into the hole, to test it. Oh my goodness, it fit!

install sink3

I removed the sink. The Hubs will set up the new faucet and drain baskets on the sink before we secure it to the counter. I slathered clear silicon caulk all around the inside of the opening, to seal the wood from moisture.

I am now in the process of treating the counters with Tung oil. It takes quite a bit of time (and stinks like all get-out). I’m using Waterlox sealer/finisher. It’s expensive stuff ($30 a quart), but it’s the best.

While we wait for the sink and plumbing, we’re turning our attention to the floors. I have to finish laying the underlayment (plywood sheets). I then must fill the screw holes and seams with wood putty, and sand them. THEN I can finally start laying my new floor (I chose TrafficMaster Allure flooring). Once the floors are in, we can move in the appliances and rig up the electric stove and gas dryer. I’m HOPING to get this done before school starts! Lord, help me!

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Livvy Loves the Cabinets

September 1, 2010

2 Comments

She just loves new stuff.

Let’s explore!

LivinCabs

LivinCabs2

These photos were taken before we got our countertops up. We installed them yesterday. And I cut out the sink hole and IT LOOKS GREAT!!! Yippeeee!! I was quite nervous about the sinkhole– you only have ONE chance, you know?

Next is the sink. Then, the flooring. Then, we move back in as much as we can while I finish the trim, build a ton of shelving, install the laundry room shelves, move back the washer and dryer and install the gas line…. and then I have to finish the dining room and install the heaters!

*collapse*

But it’s looking good. More photos on the way soon. šŸ˜€

P.S. We still haven’t figured out the electric problem in the kitchen. šŸ™ I’m going to get some help with that. I appreciate your prayers!!

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The “Tweener” Stage

August 30, 2010

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We’re in the “tweener” stage. That’s the “between” stage– after demolition but before the kitchen is fully operational. Here is where we are, as of today:

KitchenAug30

Yay! šŸ˜€

In case we’ve forgotten from whence we’ve come, this is what it looked like four months ago:

Ugliest Kitchen1

And this was after demolition:

In Kitchen Looking to DR

You can see Livvy in the photos. After demolition, she was stalking around, disliking the change. Now, however, she is relaxing on the floor (well, it’s the underlayment; the final floor goes up soon), much more pleased with the room. šŸ˜€

I have a MILLION little things to do: build shelves, finish the window trim, pipe the gas for the clothes dryer, create a bench and coat rack area for coats and storing rain boots and etc, wire the telephone jacks and network control panel… not to mention the “big” things, like finish the cabinets, install the counters and sink, install plumbing, wire the stove…. whew… but we’re getting there. And notice the dishwasher! I haven’t operated a dishwasher since I was 14 years old. šŸ˜

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