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Not quite the final kitchen update…

Well it’s officially 4 months this week since we demolished our old kitchen back in May, it’s been along process with lots of bumps in the road, but this weekend was the last Birthday of the year in our house, it always ends our summer, begins our Fall and this year it was the first Birthday we have been able to spend in our new kitchen… yay!


We now have a working stove top, oven, microwave and dishwasher, our farmhouse sink is installed at long last and fitted out with a faucet, so no more trips upstairs to the bathroom to wash anything up, although it’s become a habit it’s hard to break out of.  With the nights getting darker earlier we are thankful we now have lighting in the kitchen, as I type my kitchen island lights are being installed, it seems so long ago that my Mum and I found the newly open Restoration Hardware outlet store, it was the first day of Summer break, I dropped M to the lake to hang out with her friends, then we headed out… we had Shake Shack for lunch and I found these cool cage hanging lights, I had forgotten what they looked like until I just had to make the decision how long I wanted them to be… decisions, decisions.

I have spent the last two years planning my new kitchen, I’ve browsed Pinterest so many times creating boards with my inspiration, when the time actually came to buy the kitchen I knew exactly how I wanted it to look, light, bright, farmhouse style, subway tiles with a darker gray grout, wood and light Quartz, black handles, white ceramic sink and silver taps… I had the plan but I didn’t realize how difficult all the decisions along the way would be… small handles, big handles? One handle or two on each drawer? How wide to have the grout lines in the tile? White or silver recess lighting? Long or short pendant lighting?  The list is endless, but now the kitchen is coming together I’m very pleased, it may be just an IKEA kitchen but it’s what you do with it in the end.

We have had a slight setback this weekend, some wall water pipes had been drilled through when cabinets were installed causing a leak in the basement, this has now been fixed, and is drying out, so there is still some more work to be completed, but we are almost there now, it’s been a hard summer dealing with contractors, problems and cooking on the grill on the deck, but it could have been worse, Summer was the perfect time to be without a kitchen, no lighting, no problem we sat on the deck anyway, no cooker, no problem we love to grill in the Summer months and some of the Fall too, I think the hardest part was no sink, my potted plants suffered as I couldn’t fill my watering can so easily, we have lived with disposable everything, not very environmentally green, which I hate, but you have to do what you have to do.  

Now it is time to unpack all of the boxes of kitchen stuff and decorate this light and airy kitchen… my favorite part, we’ve already chosen the wall color, we have bought an 1800’s train station bench to renovate, we have old meat scales from the 1800’s which were from a local farm, so  very cool, we will be hanging them in the kitchen and I managed to buy some old farmhouse shutters that need a little crackle glaze and whitewash to bring them to life… oh happy days 🌞

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Photographic diary, Uncategorized

Summer is drawing to an end…

Well who agrees with me, Summer went so fast… One minute my children were finishing school and we were all looking forward to switching off our alarms and laying in bed in the mornings with no real plans for the day, then just like that it’s August, back to alarms as Heat Week kicked off, then early morning soccer practice every day, followed by thoughts of school buses, school supplies and back to school haircuts.

Summer for us always begins early, we are so lucky to have good friends with a beautiful pool… Once the weather turns and Spring is in full bloom, we are in the pool, and this has become over the years a big part of our Summer fun.  We usually visit two or three times a week, sometimes we stay for a BBQ too, but this year it’s been much more difficult to juggle with our kitchen renovation, we’ve managed it somehow and it has been so worth it, Florrie is now swimming without her armbands and Tate has gained so much confidence it’s crazy, he loves jumping in now and going under, it’s a pleasure to watch them.

 

We kicked off our Summer with some fruit picking at a local farm, it was a hot and dusty day, but we all had fun, ate way too many raspberries and Florrie discovered she loved fresh peas straight out of the pod… This made me very happy.

When we arrived in England earlier this year we discovered everyone was drinking Prosecco, what? It had become a craze, and I’m not going to lie we thought it was crazy, but as in all crazes we got hooked on our return home, this Summer has become a Summer of drinking Prosecco on the deck, with no kitchen to speak of we have grilled and grilled on our brand new BBQ and drunk copious bottles of Prosecco.


  

We Spent our Fourth of July at our friends pool, we had a BBQ too, then grabbed our suitcases and caught our late flight Down to Jacksonville, Florida for our 10 day vacation.  First stop the beautiful town of Saint Augustine, it was VERY hot, extremely picturesque and so busy, but we had a fantastic time, our condo was beautiful, the pool was warm and it was so much fun to swim every evening before dinner.  Next stop a flying visit to Daytona Beach on our way to Orlando, home to the Happiest place on earth… Disney World, it was extremely hot 103f, extremely busy but it was so magical to watch Florrie and Tate’s faces take in the whole experience that is Disney.  The first of our two days in Orlando was spent in Magic Kingdom and the second was spent in a slightly quieter Hollywood Studios, both very full long days, two days was more than enough time for me in theme parks, next year I’m taking a year off from them completely.


On our return from Florida the kitchen renovation kicked up a notch, permits were attained and contractors began to arrive, also Summer Birthday Season began with Jordan’s 26th celebration, a quiet one at home, followed by Farrel’s 22nd, Mabel’s 15th and Blu’s 17th Birthdays.  Farrel was flying to Arizona on his special day, so we had a Birthday Starbucks for breakfast before he left, then Both Mabel and Blu had soccer practice on their Birthdays so we celebrated around the coming and going that is August Soccer, Mabel with Hibachi and Blu with smokin BBQ.  Mabels friends also organized a surprise Beach party for her, which of course involved some parent help too… The sun shone, Mabel was totally surprised and had a fantastic time.

The first week in August came and it meant that my Mum was going home, with kitchen contractors in most days it was difficult to get out and make the most of her last few days here.  We did manage an afternoon at Dingmans Falls, it was a beautiful stroll through cool woodland, the Falls were relaxing to say the least.  The first weekend of August was Lumineers weekend, 6 tickets were purchased for the Stone Pony concert arena in Asbury Park, our car was loaded with beach stuff and people, the day did not disappoint even though we got absolutely soaking wet when a short heavy storm came in. I sat in the outdoor free concert on the beach with my Mum, Florrie and Tate, whilst the others all stood for hours and watched the show from inside the outdoor arena.


The last part of the Summer has been quiet for us, lots of swimming in the pool, eating Rita’s custard ice happiness, Florence’s absolute favorite, soccer practice, dinners with friends, contractors coming and going, trips to IKEA for kitchen parts, family BBQ and prosecco time on the deck, the Great British Bake Off on a Sunday evening, shopping with Dom for vacation clothes, including lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, Moms Taxi rides and let’s not forget the Sunflower Maze, a family tradition for us year after year, we love the sunflowers and getting lost in the maze, it’s always so hot in there so of course after numerous photos being taken I bribe Florrie with ice cream for just a few more shots, it works and I snap a few more before we buy sunflowers to take home and head off in the direction of something cooler.

…And that was our Summer 2016, almost over for another year, just a few more things to do on this holiday weekend. ✨

Kitchen renovation, Uncategorized

IKEA kitchen from start to not quite finished yet.

We seem to be at a standstill right now as far as the kitchen goes, it was all go, go, go for one week, now we are on a go extremely slow. We are at the end of August which means I have not had a kitchen now for 3 months, I think we have managed quite well with grilling outside on the deck, the thing I have missed the most is the sink, it has surprised me how much we rely on our kitchen sink, even in this world of automation and dishwashers, the sink is a mainstay of our kitchen and can never be fully replaced.

Installing IKEA kitchens and using there installation services is a little complicated just as there flat packed cabinets have a lot of components so does this service… It’s taken me almost three months to understand the way things work, I think, so let me try to explain… IKEA itself sells you the kitchen, the kitchen is made up of many, many, many components, on a $14,000 kitchen expect to have at least 250 boxes be delivered, there are screws, hinges, drawer fronts, side panels, handles, countertop, appliances, the list goes on, and within 48 hours you are expected to check a receipt that has a list of foreign names and complicated numbers that is at least 3 ft long over and match it with a garage full of boxes that have been delivered to you, sometimes in two or three deliveries and as it turns out one box can contain several items, if you don’t check this and report any missed items or damaged items within 48 hours they can refuse to refund these items to you at a later date, even if you are using there recommended contracting service.

Once you have purchased your kitchen and you decided to use their installation service you move onto their company called Traemand, now it has taken me a while to realize they only deal with cabinet making, installation, countertops and dry fitting of appliances, be warned to check the invoice thoroughly before you sign it, little things like fitting toe kick boards on a 47 linear foot kitchen cost $980 to fit, making your less expensive IKEA cabinets more expensive in the long run.  Be warned the invoice only says it’s an estimate and can change at any time without you even realizing it, ours increased by $300 and they didn’t even tell us why and I’m still trying to work out why exactly.  The cost of fitting our cabinets, butcher countertop and dry installation of appliances was $4400 and is now $4700 plus now we have added different toe kick boards and different end panels adding a total of $1200… In total installation is $5900.

Now we move onto almost everything else… I decided to use IKEA design service for our kitchen, the cost of this is $199, I am not a kitchen designer, I had an idea in mind how I wanted my kitchen to look but I didn’t want the responsibility of the final design and cabinets that did not fit in because I did not know what I was doing.  Traemand sub contract out to different contracting companies depending on the area you live, our IKEA use a company called Best Carpenters, their project manager was our kitchen designer… Enter Oleg, he wears many hats from design to project management.  Best Carpenters basically do anything else you need or want done, so we signed into a contract for them to complete our electrics, plumbing, Sheetrock and tiling.  This is where it gets complicated, Best Carpenters also fit the cabinets and install them too, it gets complicated because at this point you are not sure who you are dealing with for different things, should you speak to Traemand because of the cabinets or Best Carpenters because they are managing the whole project… Who, tell me!!!


The Friday before last after a busy week of cabinet installation we were asked to complete a completion form, I was skeptical of signing it, but it was 8pm, the light in the kitchen was fading, still no lights fitted, my younger children were hungry and tired as we were waiting for the kitchen guys to leave, it seemed weird to be signing a completion form when our kitchen looked like the above photos but I did it and instantly regretted it, I emailed over the weekend to Best Carpenters and Traemand to retract my signature but it made no difference, two days later Traemand tried to take the full amount plus more of the final payment on installation, luckily the money was in a different account and it did not go out, they didn’t send me an invoice to check, they didn’t ask how I wanted to pay they just tried to take the money as according to the Best Carpenter guys my cabinets were installed and my dry fit of appliances were in place… Well as you can see the cabinets were definitely not completed, there are still many boxes of components hidden in cabinets, appliances are nowhere to be seen, but they still wanted the final payment in full plus more with no invoice sent to explain the extra charges

There is a fourth part to the component of a Kitchen installation, the Quartz countertop people, you purchase the Quartz countertop in store then you call a different department for the template to be made, be warned the store told me that they would be out the next day if I needed it, but in reality they work on appointments a week to a week and a half in advance.  The cabinets need to be fully in place, appliances need to be fitted and after you have taken full responsibility for the template they draw up, it takes about 10 to 15 days to get your new countertop. 

After taking our old kitchen out three months ago I now have cabinets, not finished yet, some countertops but no stove top cut into them, I have a fully installed and working microwave, the dishwasher and oven are in place but not working yet, our refrigerator is in place and we had it before the whole new kitchen thing so that is still working, we have our template being drawn up for the Quartz on our island this Wednesday coming and I am making my third trip to IKEA this week to change and return parts… It’s been quite an experience, I’m hoping it will all be worth it in the end, by the time it is finished snow will be on the ground And I will have to relearn how to cook it’s been so long 😃

Uncategorized

Cowboy contractor

Well it’s officially been two months since we demo’d our kitchen, I have to tell you I really thought I would have my new one by now, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be.

There was a miscommunication between myself and our contractor that led to a delay in obtaining our permits, then we went on vacation and here we are today, still no kitchen but it’s getting there slowly.

Flooring is so incredibly expensive, I had not realized just how expensive until we started this process, we have swung from replacing our whole 600 square feet room flooring, to tiling just the kitchen area and then just sanding our original pine flooring and restainining, well the cost for replacing the wood floor alone was $6000 and that was with a reasonably priced wood floor, to tile just the kitchen area was another $6000, and as much as I would love to do this I think a tile accent at a later date will be the way we will proceed.  We have settled for the bargain priced sanding and restainining of our original floor boards, it’s half the price of the other options but still in my opinion an expensive option at $3000.  We hired a flooring contractor recommended by our project manager, not thinking about how it all works in the US, we took this guy at his word, I’m not a stupid person but in this case I feel very idiotic, he wrote a number on a scrap piece of paper as a quote, we wrote him a check for $500 and then another one for $750 a few days later even though he hadn’t started any work.  One month later he started work on our floor, he was late every single day, not just 30 minutes either, he was 5 hours late some days, when he did eventually arrive he would unload his limited equipment and kind of work for about an hour, then there was always an excuse why he had to leave… A 2 day job was taking 6 days and counting.  After a couple of days and a couple of hours of work he asked for another check this time for $1250, of course he didn’t give us a receipt again, he also wanted another check at the end of this week for another $1250, he explained the wood he placed into our floor had escalated from $400 to over $1000, even though he only bought approx 30ft of wood at $2.65 a foot,  I was totally against paying him more money, but Paul wrote him the check and I, a couple of days later stopped that check, thankfully. His time keeping was terrible, his work ethic was horrible, he diluted the stain with mineral oil and emulsifier, it was so diluted the floor looked like it hadn’t had any stain on it the following morning to him applying it, even the second coat is a totally different color from the one he showed us.  It took him 20 minutes to stain our 600 square foot room, in out and gone, I looked at him mopping the watery stain on the floor one day and thought, I could do that myself.   I approached him about the mineral oil added to the stain and he assured me he wasn’t duping me, he had been doing this for 32 years, he knew what he was doing.


The worst thing he did in my opinion was lie to us about the stain he was using, he assured us he was using a water based stain, because the smell of oil was overpowering and not good for us to be living in the house, Paul and I had gone backwards and forwards over an oil based stain over a water based one, I had somewhere to stay whilst it was being done with our children if we used the oil based stain, in the end we decided on the water based stain, as he recommended it would be best, unfortunately he was a liar, he used a cheap oil based stain diluted with mineral oil paint cleaner, the smell was intoxicating, he did not warn us to ventilate the house properly, he did not open a window or door in our kitchen, he just left letting us think he had used a low odor water based stain, of course we ventilated the house as best we could, but we slept in the house with these horrible fumes, I allowed my 2 and 5 year old to breathe in these toxic fumes, we suffered from headaches, irritability, and breathing difficulties.  He had to apply this stain twice as he had diluted it so much the first time, and on both occasions he did not inform us or ventilate in any way, in my opinion causing damage to our health.

I have since fired him and I am in the process of retreiving our money, thankfully I stopped the second check, when he found out he was not happy.  After some research I have found out that in the State of New Jersey you need to be registered with the state to be able to do any kind of construction work here, you need to fully disclose your State registration number, your business name and address and proof of liability insurance, you also need to provide a written quote for anything over $500, he did not fulfill any of these requirements, I have since asked for this information and he hasn’t supplied it, so I’m guessing he is not registered and if so I am fully within my rights to report him to the New Jersey Department for Law and Safety, they will then prosecute him for my loss of money and the first fine he will receive is $10,000.  I have one thing to thank him for, I now know my rights and that I need to make sure anyone we use in the future has all the States requirements before we hire them.


This is my finished kitchen floor and it doesn’t match the color of the other end of the room at all.

Kitchen renovation, Uncategorized

IKEA kitchen… Part 2


Well the hundreds of boxes have finally arrived, I say finally because this is the third time they were meant to be delivered… I guess three times really is lucky.

I began with IKEA itself being very impressive organizing my kitchen plan service as I live outside of the area they cover for this service, I have nothing but praise for the people who organized me being allowed to use this service.  The planning company are extremely efficient and I was very impressed with the level of in home service they provided, but I’m afraid that is where my praise has to end, I contacted my allocated planner several times after he left my house with minor changes to my plan, at first he was quick to respond back but misread a couple of my changes and got it wrong, which was fine, but then when I contacted him again to correct the mistakes he took longer to reply, the final time I contacted him he didn’t reply at all until IKEA itself got involved, in the end I gave up and went direct to the IKEA kitchen department in the store to order my kitchen, I was on a time crunch due to the 15% off offer IKEA had been offering, I had 30 days to order the kitchen from the day the planner came into my home.

Make no mistake ordering a kitchen in IKEA is very time consuming, I allowed 2 hours, but in reality it took 5 hours in total, I had taken Florrie and Tate with me, which was a big mistake, I was totally bored and they were bouncing off the walls in the end… The guys in the kitchen department were extremely nice but there was a bit of conflicting information that caused me some confusion in the end, but it was sorted out and the 252 boxes were ordered, or so I thought as I headed towards the exit door and the home delivery department.  Almost but not quite out of the door, I hit another obstacle as I entered into home delivery to merge my two orders for delivery.  There was a line of two people waiting, not bad I thought to myself, but I was wrong, there was no one serving, the IKEA employee was no where to be seen for at least 15 minutes, when she did appear she was rude and had a ‘don’t care’ attitude, after another 15 minutes it was discovered that I had missed paying for a couple of items and the delivery charge… Which for some reason she seemed to think was my fault…  What, how could 5 hours in the kitchen department mean that they had missed this even after I checked that all charges were on the order… $285 later I was finally free to leave, the sun had come out, there was a slight breeze and we were going to be stuck in traffic at 5pm on a Friday trying to get home, without traffic IKEA is a 50 minute drive from our home… Fun, two tired children and traffic… Get that wine ready for when I get home.
The delivery date was set for May 21st, we cleared our garage ready for the boxes to arrive… I went to the dentist and when I got home Paul took me to the garage to show me my kitchen… Well five small drawer front boxes sat in the middle of the garage, that was all that came… Whilst trying to contact the delivery company, I got another call from dispatch telling me the kitchen was not delivered as some boxes were damaged, she informed me she would contact IKEA and call me later in the day with a new delivery day… Four days later, no return phone call, no new delivery date, I call them back to be told I need to call IKEA myself and tell them about the boxes being damaged… 1 hour later I finally speak to someone in kitchen after sales department, she has no idea the kitchen was not delivered, she doesn’t know about the damaged boxes, but assures me she will get this sorted out, and in fairness she did call me back later in the day, she tells me part of my order is being sent to a different town as the home delivery girl in IKEA got my address wrong, she tells me everything has been changed and delivery is set for the coming Saturday and that I should expect a call from the delivery company on Friday confirming a time.  Fast forward to Friday, no phone call comes through, so first thing Saturday I contact the delivery company… Yes you guessed it, I’m not on the delivery schedule for that day… Really!  30 minutes later I finally manage to leave a message at the kitchen after sales department, four hours later they call me back, telling me the kitchen was not ready for delivery that day, so maybe I imagined the conversation I had had with Ruby earlier in the week, anyway a new day was set for delivery, Memorial Day between 10am and 2pm and guess what… This time it arrived, but before they delivered the boxes I got a phone call confirming my address as they couldn’t get the GPS to recognize my address, it turns out they were trying to deliver to the address the home delivery girl got completely wrong, someone almost got a nice new kitchen in Clifton… Paul said the delivery guys were really nice, they organized the boxes ready for installation, let’s hope they are all here.

Demo day arrived finally, something I’ve been waiting for for two years. ..we demo’d our own kitchen so of course it went very smoothly… Ha, ha! We had a gas leak from an old dodgy gas cable at the back of the stove, the water pipe valves were so old and rusty we couldn’t shut off the water without shutting off the main water in the house, a night with no hot water, our regular plumber on vacation, 3 non returned new plumber phone calls later,  $300 later we have our water up and running again, but there are water pipes running through a wall in the pantry that is meant to be being demolished… All in all a good start to this kitchen renovation, I’m already feeling the stress… LOL!

Kitchen renovation

IKEA kitchen fun… Part 1


It’s been a few years since I started my quest for a new kitchen, it’s been a whole year in the planning phase and now it’s finally here, the cabinets, appliances, sink and faucets are ordered and arriving next week… Onto phase two, installation.
I have changed my mind several times along the way, don’t get me wrong my kitchen style has never changed, farmhouse kitchens have gained popularity in the last few years, farmhouse sinks, simple shaker cupboards and subway tiles are all the vogue, but these were all things I chose for my kitchen 14 years ago back in England and they are all things I still love to this day, so my obvious choices were always going to go back to my roots despite its popularity these days. The things that have changed are how and where I would get my cabinets, we plan to be in our house for a relatively short amount of time, now things could change but I’m hoping when Mabel is out of High School we will be moving, so in all honesty it seemed crazy to spend a huge amount of money on a big fancy kitchen, also if anyone knows me I’m not a big fancy person, I like thrifting, mismatched shabby chic and pure and simple country style. If I had my way I would have a kitchen made up of all old free standing cabinets, an old farmhouse sink with a curtain underneath for a door, an old work table as an island and reclaimed floorboards for the counter tops, unfortunately this is not only impractical with living in a house in a field and mice, but also I think Paul and Mabel would freak out too.

We have looked around at high end kitchen showrooms, middle of the range cabinets and IKEA… Well guess what IKEA won, their cabinets get good reviews, have a good warranty and are reasonably priced, they are very customizable so you can really mix and match to get the configuration you want, they are not as cheap as I was led to believe though. I have waited for their annual kitchen offer to come into play, I also used their kitchen planning service $199, a bargain, as an IKEA family member I get a full refund when I ordered my kitchen, they also have an installation service that includes as much of the work you want done or as little. The 15% back from the purchase price of your kitchen comes in the form of an IKEA gift card but was well worth doing as it means when all is said and done I will have saved $2000, as I plan to use the gift card on some of the kitchen not yet ordered.
All in all so far I’m excited… The ordering process in the store was extremely slow and took a lot longer than I had planned for, F and T were starting to bounce off the walls we were confined in the store for so long, now don’t get me wrong I love a shopping trip to Ikea usually but this was just long boring and seemed so unnecessary as I had the documentation from the planning service. I’m hoping to farmhouse chic my new kitchen with a few new thrifting pieces once it’s installed, but for now it will be arriving next week and the hard work has to begin… Where do I put all the stuff in my existing kitchen cupboards ready for Demo Day.