Archive for May, 2012
Today we’re working away on demo-ing out the old balcony where the new deck is going to go (since Mother Nature rained us out yesterday) so we hope to have more photos to share of our progress soon (Monday at the latest if all goes well!).
In the meantime, we thought this awesome budget-friendly kitchen idea was such a smart solution. We never really considered stainless steel counters, but after seeing Linn and her husband make it look so easy (and affordable) we’re definitely into it. Here’s Linn’s note:
I wanted to share a DIY tip for countertops which isn’t really that common, but it’s a great idea if you’re on a budget and you don’t mind doing some work yourself. When my husband and I renovated our kitchen we were able to get awesome looking stainless steel countertops for the bargain price of $400 (for a small 20 square foot counter). A big box hardware store quoted us $3,000 to put in and install basically the same thing!! Here are our old formica counters during our renovation:
We made a plywood template to the exact size of our counter and worked with a local sheet metal shop that cut and bended a piece of 20 gauge stainless steel around our plywood template.
Then we installed the plywood on top of our old Formica counters…
… and added the steel on top of it (it’s covered in a protective sticker in this shot)…
This option proved to be so much cheaper than many other materials around, so if anyone else is contemplating what type of counters to put in, and they don’t want to spend all of their budget on granite or marble, then I would highly recommend this method!
Stainless steel looks great, is super durable, and requires no maintenance whatsoever!
We really love how it turned out! – Linn
Obviously a lot of other great stuff went into Linn’s transformation, so hit up her blog for more details about everything – from those awesome stainless steel counters to the kitchen project as a whole. Have you guys considered stainless steel? Did you know you could get help from a local sheet metal shop to accomplish something like this for thousands less than buying stainless counters the traditional way?
UPDATE: Since a lot of the comments are asking about long-term care and durability of Linn’s counters, here’s a link to a post she did with her thoughts on it.
Psst- We announced this week’s giveaway winner, so click here to see if it’s you.
Me + a picture of our kitchen + photoshop = this post.
Back in December when we bought our kitchen stools (from a school supply store for $32 a pop) we mentioned we were entertaining a number of ways to tweak them down the line (painting them, upholstering/staining the seat, etc) but just couldn’t shake the feeling that we should live with them a while first – just to make sure we weren’t doing anything rash in the middle of a kitchen remodel. We basically wanted the room to come together, live with them a little, and then make the call.
It was actually really nice how they tied into the stainless appliances, felt kind of geek-industrial, and even brought the gray color in the wall of penny tile over into the other side of the room. But after a nice long time of thinking it through and weighing our options, we decided… it’s time to paint them! It’s not that we don’t like how they look as-is as much as we think a new coat of paint could look infinitely better. From good to great if you will. So without further ado, our musings…
Our first thought was a dark teal color. Don’t mind our horribly photoshopped stool rendering (it’s not a very accurate portrayal at all, but in our brain we think we can almost picture it).
Why dark teal? Well, see the back of the built-ins in the adjoined dining room in this older shot of the room on the right?
Since the kitchen and the dining room are now open to each other, we just love seeing a sliver of that dark teal on the built-ins when we’re in there, so we thought bringing a bit more of that color in with the stools could be fun. Although it could be a little too matchy-matchy too, so we kept playing around with other options.
Like white, which is a little too… white for us. Haha. There’s just so much lightness in the cabinets and counters that although glossy white stools would look modern and clean, we think it’s just too flat for us.
Next we tried ORB (oil-rubbed bronze), which would probably be an easy win. We worried it would blend in too much with our floor, but at least from this terrible rendering they look like they’d pop in front of the white cabinets/counter. And they’d balance the dark hardware on the pendant lights above (I also tried a dark charcoal gray but they didn’t look as good as the ORB rendering, so I figured that was the better option. But it’s not the most happy and exciting choice out there.
Then we tried yellow since we like the other random pops of yellow in the room – like that jar next to the fridge and that planter on the open shelves. But it looked crazy-scary. Might just be photoshop though, so I decided to bring Clara’s yellow highchair in and see how that looks in front of the peninsula (since surely it can’t look this nuts in real life).
Sure enough, it looks pretty cute:
I also brought in a random HomeGoods/Joss&Main stools from other rooms (blue = HomeGoods, red = Joss&Main) just to see how those colors would look. We actually really liked all three of these color options. It’s fun to have a little pop of happy at the peninsula, right?
Of course the blue one looked awesome with the pops of blue on the open shelves, but this exercise actually got us seriously considering tomato red, since it’s not in many other places around the house (so it feels exciting and new). It would also pick up some of the red tones in our Lady Swimming print next to the fridge, which could be fun. But since the chairs wouldn’t be low-lying garden stools, and would be four metal stools with backs, in order to picture it, I bounced back to my good friend Photoshop.
Our only fear is that with the yellow-green walls, red or deep orange chairs are a little too McDonalds for our tastes (especially when viewed from the other side of the kitchen – looking back towards the fireplace nook, which has a lot more green paint going on than this view). So next we decided to give leaf green a try…
… and a deeper emerald color…
All of them could probably work, so they got logged as other alternatives. It was at this point that we realized that a number of things could work in our pretty neutral kitchen (white and gray and brown pretty much goes with everything), so it’s just going to come down to choosing whatever color we like best.
Next it was onto blue, where we tried a lighter teal color with a fair amount of gray in it:
Of course these renderings aren’t very true to what things will really look like in real life with light bouncing around and not everything being the same flat shade – so something that looks the best here could totally read differently in real life. But the truth is that we love a room with a pop of color in the stools, like this, this, and this), and our minds change about what color we want to go with every day.
Oh and how funny is this? Right after I shot this picture…
… I walked into the office and saw this stack of books…
Guess I’m just a die-hard fan of those colors. Haha. For accessories, potential stool colors, and beyond!
You know we’ll keep you posted when we make a final decision! Hopefully within the next week or two – because these renderings are getting us excited. Haha. And this little photoshop exercise was comforting because it helped us realize that there are any number of ways we could go instead of having to find the “one right color” like hunting for a needle in a haystack. I’m sure you guys will weigh in with your favorite stool colors in the meantime, right? Anyone else playing around in Photoshop or bringing items from other rooms to see how certain colors or shapes will work?
Before we get to the deck/permit stuff that this post is really about, we wanted to mention that we keep hearing from folks who had no idea that we have a family/personal/behind the scenes blog called Young House Life (which we started nearly a year ago – my how time flies). So if you’re looking for photos of our messy house, pictures of us being weird, life-stuff beyond the home improvement happenings at our house, and Burger/Clara galore, that’s the place. We usually post 3-4 times a week (very randomly) and you can get there by clicking the word “Life” under our header or by clicking the button that says “Our Family Blog” on the sidebar. We can be found chatting about everything from the Kool-Aid man and traveling with a toddler, to left-handedness, kid-babble, The Hunger Games and Clara’s moves like jagger.
For example, today we’re posting about what we did over Memorial Day weekend, complete with a photo of Sherry being overly enthusiastic on a carousel and me trying to have swagg (that’s right, with a double g) along with a video of Clara riding a few boardwalk rides.
Just wanted to share that since the only time we really formally mentioned Young House Life was in a post last summer when we redesigned our entire site, and apparently there was a lot going on, so it might not have been the most clear introduction. Sorry about that!
But now back to our slow and steady deck progress. I must admit, this whole project makes me a bit nervous. Something about attaching a structure to our house that has to support human weight gives me shivers if I think about it too much. But at least it’s only a few feet off the ground and not a second level deck or anything. Having to get a permit wracked my nerves a little more since we hear the county can be pretty particular about decks since they can definitely be dangerous if they’re not built correctly – so there is a bit more going on with the county (like two different inspections throughout the process, etc). But, as this post title reveals, I did get our permit and work is officially, well, permitted to begin. Woot! So allow me to back up and tell you how we got here.
My little doodle hardly sufficed as a plan for building a deck, especially compared to what I saw reading through my county’s how-to guide for obtaining a deck permit (which took me about five reads and lots of Googling before it stopped making me go cross-eyed). After a couple of false starts trying to draw up plans on my own, I threw up my hands (quite literally, actually) and told Sherry I needed help. She suggested I call two sources we’ve trusted in the past to help us plan projects: Home Depot and Southside Builder Supply (which is the place we bought materials for our last big outdoor project – the patio). SBS only does stone, so they referred me 84 Lumber (a lumber-specializing warehouse located about 30 minutes from our house) while Home Depot directed me to, well, Home Depot. So I decided to take both deck planning services for a spin to see which gave me the best plans and the best estimate.
Let’s start with Home Depot, where I was invited to bring my measurements to their Pro Desk to have a plan and estimate drawn up.
It was a fairly painless process. The Home Depot associate clicked through their planning software, asking me questions along the way like what kind of footings and attachments I wanted (which made me glad I had done that upfront research so I knew what I was being asked). After 20 minutes or so, they had printed up a pretty comprehensive deck design which they assured me was something I could bring right to the county for a permit. It was so thorough it literally outlined every wood cut I’d have to make.
The shot below is actually the first plan I worked up with them (for a freestanding deck). I later went back and they happily revised it to be attached to the house, sparing me lots of post hole digging. They were also able to give me a version comparing the cost of composite to pressure-treated wood (which helped us make the wood decision here). I appreciated them not eye-rolling every time I asked for a change.
Overall I was pleased with the Home Depot process, especially since I always find it helpful to talk to someone face-to-face. That was actually one aspect I missed when going through the 84 Lumber design process. I spoke to someone in my local store by phone, but they said all the deck designs were done at their central office so it was best to just submit things using their online form.
I put in all of my information and uploaded the schematics I had sketched along with a few photos of the space. Two days later I got an email saying my plan was attached. The plan wasn’t as detailed as the Home Depot version, but seemed to be a better approach (from what little I know of these things).
My contact there was very responsive to my questions by email and also made some revisions I requested within a day-ish. But I did kinda missed the human interaction element of it all.
Ultimately 84 won out for us because their plan felt more straightforward and was about $400 less expensive to execute. Plus it felt good to go with a company that specializes in lumber for such a lumber-heavy project. They also happen to be right here in Richmond and they supply wood from our region (our deck’s wood will come from somewhere right here in the south and will meet all of the requirements for human safety – like no arsenic, etc). We also plan to use an eco-sealer to keep it even safer for Clara and Burger- but more on that when we get there (we haven’t even started that research yet).
So with two copies of my plan from 84 printed out, I gathered all of the paperwork that my county’s website required (as well as some extras just in case). I’ll admit I wasn’t certain that I had the right stuff, but I told myself that the worst that could happen is that they’d send me away and say “come back with X, Y & Z.”
After speaking with someone at our county’s Office of Building Inspection we decided to try the walk-through process where you can obtain a permit in one day, in person. For some reason I pictured this like a job interview or pleading my case to a judge and jury, so I dressed up a bit for the occasion. This is dressed up for me these days (shirt tucked in and not wearing tennis shoes or a hat). I figured it made me look professional, but still like I could construct a deck. Seriously, I put thought into this permit-getting outfit.
The actual process was very tame compared to what I had imagined. I spoke to a couple of receptionists, filled out a form, and was told to wait for my permit (and that they’d “let me know if they had any questions”). This sparked me running through all of the things I could be quizzed on – what size my joists were, what depth was I digging my holes, etc. I did my best to get lost in the episode of House Hunters that was playing in the waiting room.
Just before the cross examination scenario could fully play out in my head, a nice woman walked out and handed me my permit: “you’re free to begin work.” Sweet!
I’m still kind of surprised it was that easy. Admittedly I’m still a bit nervous about the notoriously thorough inspection process, but at least this has given me a good boost of confidence to move forward. And Sherry, Clara, and Burger all did the happy dance in the living room when I returned home with that important piece of paper. So I’ve officially ordered the materials from 84 Lumber and am currently waiting for them to arrive. In the meantime, we’re gonna get started by taking down the old balcony. Demolition here we come! I actually planned to start on that today- and wop wop. Rain! Here’s hoping tomorrow is nice and sunny.
Who else has gone through the permit process and lived to tell the tale? Any interesting stories, tips, or disasters you’d like to share? Did you like my permit-getting outfit, or did I overdress? A few dusty contractors walked in and out with their steel toed boots and certainly made me feel a little less rugged by comparison.