Category Archives: Home Remodeling

We’re finally there!

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

Yes, at last. It was an 8 week project, just like my contractor promised. What he didn’t tell me was that it would be 8 weeks every other week. As usual, weather, other projects, and waits for the cabinet shop to fabricate the cabinets got in the way. One thing neither of us expected was the up turn in the Norfolk Building Department’s permits business. The review we expected to take a week took three and they wanted some changes requiring another trip through the review process.

The Project

The project intent was to make a laundry and utility space in conditioned space, a new family entry that served both the carport and the back garden, and a modern kitchen that was easy to work in and allowed the cook to interact with the rest of a family while cooking and cleaning up.

The project borrowed 4 feet of carport and the existing utility closet at the back of the carport to make a new utility alcove, new family entry, and pantry storage. This space also housed the refrigerator and oven opposite each other. A new peninsula housed the cooktop and provided proper workspace for cooking and cleanup. Prep can be divided between the sink countertops and the peninsula. The skink and cooking areas are arranged galley style with a good 5 feet of space between the two counters. It is possible to work at both counters without blocking access to the pantry and garden. And the hounds can move around without being under foot.

 

 

My Contractor

My contractor R. L. Blount Custom Homes did a first rate job . The things that stand out are the design. I had a small potatoes architect do the initial conceptual design. I played with that some on tracing paper and concluded that I wanted to move the door and change the porch design to a Charleston style porch with steps parallel to the wall.

The project was design-build. Given a statement of my goals and sketches, my contractor’s designer did a detailed design and prepared permitting and construction drawings. During this phase, my contractor did the structural design required to remove bearing walls, the structural design for two new walls, and the calculations for a beam that would carry the structure formerly resting on the 1955 kitchen’s interior partitions.

I did two things to help this phase of the project. First, I engaged a local architect to develop a conceptual design and some plan views that could be used as a starting point for proposals. The second thing I did was to write up a list of goals and preferences that each bidder could use during the proposal and estimating process.

Estimating is a bit tricky as the job must be estimated from scope of work sketches and task lists developed during the proposal phase. A detailed design comes after award but flat rate estimating guides are well refined and it is pretty easy to work up costs from the rough materials and task lists and to make an allowance for uncertainty in market conditions and approximate amounts of materials and trade time. And key suppliers like ProBuild assist with the estimates as part of their builder services.

My contractor’s designer Matt did the detailed design and construction drawings we needed for permitting starting with my sketches. Evan, my project manager, did the kitchen conceptual design that Matt started from, and  tweaked the laundry closet and cabinet layouts a little bit to give us more room for the fridge.

Matt deserves a shout out for getting the new hip roof and nice porch design right. I was biting my nails as it was all going up but it has worked out brilliantly.

Matt did forget to remove some new construction boiler plate from his drawings such as floor insulation instructions. In a small addition like my 9×9 utility space and the renovated kitchen, it is accepted practice to follow the existing crawl space insulating and venting practices. Fortunately, the building department did not insist on compliance with the drawings here. We did insulate all of the new side walls and seal all plate and subfloor penetrations. All the better to keep crawly things out.

My contractor does project management and subs all of the work out: design, demolition, masonry, framing, roofing, siding, exterior finish, electrical, plumbing, drywall and plaster, tile, cabinets, granite, interior finish and painging. Every time we changed trades, there was a wait for interviews, proposals, and start of the next project phase.

Normally, this works quite well. Where it gets complicated is when a small task needs just a bit of work from 2 or 3 trades. Installing the downdraft blower went like that. The HVAC duct technician could cut the cabinet, sub-floor, and foundation and run the duct work but was not an electrician. I ended up wiring the blower because my contractor would have to call back an electrician do make up a cable connector. And Bosch had an error in the wiring instructions. More about this below.

Appliance Supplier

Ferguson Inc supplied appliances and was first rate. Bosch forgot to pack fasteners, etc in the microwave oven trim kit shown in the featured image. Ferguson came through with a parts diagram having part numbers and found everything that should have been in the box that wasn’t. And they expressed it to me over night! Great service. They also restocked an unwise choice of light fixture (looked way different than its catalog photo colors). And they swapped downdraft blower units from wall mount to under house mount for a modest restocking fee.

Masons

The Mexican masons did the masonry demolition, cut the carport slab to receive the new footings, dug the footings and made forms, poured the footings using site ready-mix, and laid the foundation and brick veneer. All of this is tricky. It has to be right or the rest of the job is off. They did an excellent job with the layout and the finished brick work is plumb and flat. They don’t work retail.

Plumbers

My steampunk plumbers Chris and Jamie managed to run new plumbing for the water heater, laundry, and kitchen without interrupting services for more than an hour or two. They specialize in new construction and renovations and don’t do repairs but they did a great job on both the bath project and the kitchen project.

The Plastering Crew

The plastering crew, also Mexican, did a great job with the drywall and plaster. We ended up doing new skim coat over the existing lounge area ceiling because it would have been difficult to match the 1950’s scratch coat finish. Another trade that doesn’t do much retail work.

The Electricians

Anchor Electrical did a wizard job with the wiring. They had a bit of a surprise when they found ungrounded circuits for the old oven, and dryer. The cooktop circuit was new (2006) and could be extended to its new location. The other 240V circuits, lacking grounds, had to be replaced, something Evan missed when he was pricing the job My contractor picked up the cost of the 240V circuits that had to be replaced.

The thing I really like is that the crew thought about where the recessed lights should go and supplied Lutron dimmers for the recessed lighting. With Cree LED trims, the place is sunglasses bright when the lights are full up. I normally run the lighting half-bright, even for dinner prep and cooking.

Given a description of how I intended to place the dining room table, the lead electrician properly located the fixtures for the pendant lamps. These kept getting in the way during the tail end of the project but once the table was placed, they were exactly where they needed to be and at the proper height.

They also did a nice job with the yard light replacement. They supplied nice flood lamp fixtures that you won’t find on the shelf at Home Depot. These completely shield the lights from water and have a nice finish that will stay bright and looks good against the white trim.

The dryer circuit was repurposed to serve the Rinnai tankless water heater which is on its own circuit. The red (properly marked) became the ground. The lighting circuits in the old house had to be reworked. None were to code. Power went to the fixture with a switch in the return. We don’t do that any more. I ended up picking up those costs as repairs. Similarly, the outdoor lights which had been on the fritz since my return. The switch was in the work area but there were problems in old work outside the work boundary.

These guys are highly recommended for lighting updates and repair work. Good old work skills and diagnostic skills. They also relocated data, RF, and phone circuits that needed to be moved.

Flooring

Adrian Hardwood Floors and Tile laid the ceramic tile floor and backsplash, the new wood flooring, and refinished the existing floors. The tile flooring took a week: 2 days of layout and cutting, a day to lay, a day to grout, and clean up. The floor refinishing took 2 days with 2 more that I had to be off the floor while it cured. Nick, Missy, and I spent 3 nights in the Norfolk Residence Inn enjoying downtown Norfolk. Adrian receives my recommendations for floor refinishing and floor replacement. The young crew was patient and meticulous in the layout of the floor and backsplash.

Local Cabinet Shop

Chuck’s Custom Cabinets and Construction deserves a shout out for the design of the cabinets. Evan and Chuck refined the kitchen layout, especially the stepping down of the cabinet depth in the pantry, the drawers in the peninsula, and the overhanging buffet or dining counter area. Chuck designed and built the cabinets working from Matt’s plan view and a walk down of the site to confirm measurements.

Chuck set the job up to use standard cabinet sizes with a bit of cleverness at the refrigerator where he took up the slack in the as-built ground truth. Chuck’s guys also installed the cabinets doing a wonderful job of coping with the departures from true in the old structure.

The galley kitchen design added 3 feet to the dining area depth that were formerly part of the 1955 kitchen allowing me to put the dining table parallel to the end wall where it had been parallel to the front wall while still having room to use the table ends or the counter.

Granite Fabricators

Panda Kitchen fabricated the granite and installed it. Everything fit. They cut the cooktop and downdraft opening in the field and dealt with the departure from square with a combination of planned off-square cuts and field trimming.

The granite finish turned out nicely and they cut the notch for the column in a most clever way. Using a water jet stone saw, they cut the two sides 2 degrees off vertical so that the plate cross section was keystone shaped. This made the piece self-supporting while the epoxy cured. The piece fits so well that you have to look closely to find the filled joint. This was another place I was biting my nails as the stone changes color during final polishing.

For those doing kitchen renovation as opposed to remodeling projects needing architectural and structural work, I’d recommend Panda in a heartbeat. They have built two kitchens for a friend, the first a planned remodel, the second, reconstruction following a fire.

More about delays

The project delays resulted from the weather delaying start of earlier jobs, a demanding client that caused lots of rework on a large job that was concurrent with mine, and the inevitable friction of as-you-go contracting of trades. We did have to back up and do a bit of rework on the roof to fix a goof that the gutter contractor caught, and several finish items that required multiple trades like the downdraft blower required trades to come back,

Missing parts and other chaos

My goof

Although everyone was careful to keep the jobsite neat, we did lose some of the bits for one of the deadbolts which were in my scope of supply. Kwikset retail packing is impossible to repack so stuff rattled around and eventually the screws went missing.

Kwikset supplied the parts we misplaced on the job at no cost. That delayed us a bit. I ended up finding my chisels and doing the mortise changes needed for the door plate and strike plate. We found that the parts had gone missing when the interior finish folks were doing their bit of the job. I had supplied the lock sets so the parts were my problem. They’re probably with the eyeglasses that went missing this summer. I suspect the red chaos unit named Missy.

Bosch Goofs

There were two. The downdraft installation instructions for the in-line blower managed to have you wire the cable from the cabinet mounted snorkel assembly to the crawl space mounted blower incorrectly. The contract tech writer who did the manuals looked at the instructions for wiring the blower end connector and had you do the same for the plug from the snorkel that was to mate with it. The end result was that the field wired connector was backward. This connected medium speed to ground popping the breaker.

Fortunately, both cables used the same color code so it was easy to take the hood off the factory wired connector and wire the field wired connector to match.

Bosch also forgot to pack the loose parts for the microwave trim kit. A call to Ferguson had the needed parts ordered and on their way in a day. Everything was stocked in the US so UPS was able to make the missing bits appear the day after they had been identified and itemized.

Bosch designed the trim kit mounting clips for frameless European cabinets. Evan, my project manager, came out and spent an hour fiddling with saws and screws to make temporary blocking only to determine that we could get the cabinet mounted bits mounted directly to the face frame. This is where experience comes in. Evan picked some screws that wouldn’t split the face frame, something I’d get wrong.

But We’re not 100 Percent!

Evan bought matching paint to paint the endgrain of the Trex steps. He forgot to turn that task over to the painters. It will take longer to clean the brush than to do the work so I’ve picked up that task. Probably Wednesday once it is warm again.

90 Percent and Holding

The kitchen project is nearly complete but we are at the 90 percent and stalled point. One big task and several small ones remain.

  • Install gutters
  • This requires fixing a goof in the roof deck
  • Install back door dead bolt
  • Install microwave trim kit
  • Install closet rod in laundry area
  • Stain the column
  • Locate or install a shut off valve for the water heater water supply
Dogs' dinner table
Dogs’ dinner table

The featured image is a view down the greyhound gallop. The pantry area includes two granite counters cut from the counter top remnant. One (shown at the above) is set at 18 inches and the second at 36 inches. The first is the dogs’ dinner table. The second is for stashing keys, purse, phones, etc needed on the way out the door. The granite is Saint Cecilia Light.

20150916-IMG_1517To the left facing the door is a laundry and utility alcove that houses the Rinnai tankless water heater and the laundry. The laundry equipment are Whirlpool high efficiency washer and dryer. The dryer is ventless with a heat pump heat source. Surprisingly, it works quite well in “Eco Mode” in which the heat pump supplies all of the drying heat. The dryer has a resistance heater that can be used to supplement the heat pump or by itself. When using the heat pump source, the drying times are longer but energy usage is 1/4 that when just the resistance heater is used. The heat pump cools the air leaving the drum and preheats the air entering the drum. The water condensed out of the air accumulates in a sump and is pumped down to the drain.

Compared to a conventional dryer, the air temperature rises more slowly so the drying times are longer. Because the cycle is closed, no air is taken from the home or discharged to it. The pump heat drives the cycle and the drying air gets normally toasty by cycle’s end.

I have only two gripes.

  • Button labels are low contrast white on gray and are hard to read above head level.
  • The drum rotates only one way so it tends to tangle sheets.

This image below shows the new peninsula and the wet wall cabinets that house the sink and dishwasher.

New open plan kitchen
New open plan kitchen

This image shows the new split bowl sink. This design is wizard simple. I’m surprised that it is a recent innovation. Only one manufacturer offers it so it must be under patent. This idea is so obvious, I’m surprised that it is new. One trick I just discovered is that a normal basket strainer allows the sink to drain into the disposer while keeping objects out.

Split basin sink
Split basin sink

This is the new dining area showing a temporary 4 foot folding table. The new space is about 3 to 4 feet larger than the original allowing a six foot table to be placed parallel to the back wall in the area under the pendant lights. There is still room to use the peninsula as a buffet, snack bar, or kids study area.

New dining area
New dining area

Kitchen is coming together

One box of Chemex filters later, the kitchen is almost finished. This is my contribution to the design, moving the carport door from the carport to the end wall and adding this Charleston style porch and step. My builder’s designer got the masses and sizes right.

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My project manager Evan found a use for some of the granite remanent. The dogs have a dinner table and I have a similar shelf at 36 inches to stage groceries for storage, etc. Below is room for boots, etc. At top is a shelf for cook books, etc.20150818-IMG_1433

In the original kitchen, this counter was in a corner formed by the window wall and carport wall. The hob was to the right making dish washing and cooking miserable experiences. The sink was a 2 bowl sink, the same size as this one but with full depth bowls. Washing baking pans was a miserable chore.

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By taking out that wall from the back to the right side of the carport door and building a new L-shaped wall, Evan created the laundry alcove, family entry, and pantry in the background. A new peninsula holds the hob, downdraft vent, storage, and a counter height breakfast bar and buffet.

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The photo above shows the hob (British for cook top) cooking its first meal. Nothing ambitious, just spaghetti and sauce to learn how the beast works and get a feel for the new induction heating. A bit slow with 10 liters of  water to boil but about similar control to the old radiant hob for most tasks.

And cleaning up is much easier with the new sink. It now has proper workspace around it and the half-depth half-bowls make dish washing easy while we await the dish washer. Later today. Plumbers are wrapping that task up as I write this post. This idea is so obvious but this design is new to the market and only a couple of sink makers offer it (suggesting that it is still under patent).

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And no kitchen is complete without a greyhound gallop. The photo below is a dog’s eye view of the project taken about a week ago before appliance installation began.

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Remodeling Known Unknowns

Remodeling projects are always an adventure. In planning a project you and your contractor make assumptions about the existing condition of the building that may or may not be true. Missing an educated guess can have a big effect on a project’s profitability or throw some change orders. The classic example is the finding of hidden water damage in a bathroom remodel. The one we met this time around was in the condition of my home’s electrical wiring.

1955 Practice

My home was built for speculation by a Norfolk subdivision developer in 1955. Before me it had one owner who kept it up reasonably well and didn’t mess things up too badly. Back in the day when my home was built, 100 amp 10 circuit panels were the norm. Wiring was ROMEX 14 gage for 15 amp circuits. Center tapped 220V service to the home was common with the branch circuits divided between red and black buses with the white neutral grounded at the pole and again at the panel.

At that time it was not common to provide a ground, ground the boxes, or carry the ground to the sockets. Fortunately, the wiring has modern insulation which remains in good shape. It is possible to replace switches and sockets without cracking or loosing insulation, a common problem with rubber insulation found in the early days of home wiring.

At that time, it was not uncommon for an electrician to bring power to the fixture box, run a cable to the switch and then to the load. This results in a working switch but power remains in the box when the switch was open, and the black supply, white neutral, and the switch cable must be identified. It makes the fixture less safe and complicates the repair as the various black and white wires must be identified and reconnected correctly.

Modern Practice

Modern practice is to include a ground wire in the bundle, ground the box, and ground the chassis or body of electrical appliances using a third (or fourth) green wire connected through the plug or appliance pig tail (oven, cook top, etc). This has been code since shortly after my home was built.

The second modern practice that is significant to my project is to wire power to the switch and wire the fixture circuit from the switch. When the switch is off, the fixture box is deenergized. One or more fixture circuits violated this requirement.

Electrical Rough

The electrical contractor showed up to estimate the job, took one look at the old ungrounded wiring, and quickly realized that none of the existing circuits could be reused. This meant that the existing oven, cook top, and dryer circuits could not be reused because modern code requires four conductors: white neutral, red hot, black hot, and green ground. The cables had only three. This is a foreseeable contingency but one that could not be confirmed without some inspection.

The electrical contractor sorted everything out and realized that he could reuse one cable run by repurposing the red wire as a ground in a 120 V run for the Rennai tankless water heater. The other 220 volt circuits could not be extended to the new locations of the oven and original cooktop and the dryer would require a new circuit that included a ground. Code permits this practice provided that the wire is marked with tape or heat shrink of the proper color (green).

Electrical Safety Digression

When power is brought directly to the fixture and a switch circuit is run from the fixture to the switch location, power will be present in the fixture whether the switch is off or on. This means that the breaker must be opened to deenergize the fixture for maintenance.

Before disassembling any circuit, check the circuit with an electronic tester such as those made by Fluke. These non-contact sensors detect the electric field around the wire and will alert you to an energized circuit. The drill is

  1. Confirm that the tester works by checking a known energized cable.
  2. Test the cable to be worked on and the others in the box.
  3. Confirm that the tester still works by checking a known energized cable.

Modern testers are pretty reliable but they do have batteries that can run down mid-job. Always confirm that your tester is working reliably before and after making life safety tests of the circuits to be worked on and around.

If there is more than one circuit in a box, confirm that the others are also deenergized. It is possible for a box or device to have more than one source of power.

Mixing Legacy Work with New Work

Any new work must conform to the national electrical code in effect at the time the work is done. In a kitchen remodeling project, it is likely that old work switches will be present in the work area and may need to be moved. If the move is of some distance, for example, the wall containing the switch is removed, then a new switch will be required. Your electrician will wire this switch to current code (power to the switch then to the appliance) whether the original circuit was that way or not.

This means that the legacy fixture may need to be rewired. This is the other known unknown that is typically encountered. A properly wired legacy fixture circuit can be extended to the new switch location. An improperly wired fixture circuit must be replaced. This is the source of several change orders in my project. The other source was to add car port lights and a 220V circuit for the irrigation pump.

How things worked out

My contractor assumed the costs of replacing the unusable legacy circuits that lacked grounds.

I assumed the costs of correcting the substandard fixture circuits that were outside the work area.

I assumed the cost of moving the TV, voice, and data circuit in the wall that was removed.

I assumed the cost of adding the fixture circuits powered from the work area that were outside the work area (new carport lights).

The grand design emerges

The flooring crew is working Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Monday. They set the Schluter DITRA decoupling membrane and new wood flooring on Wednesday. On Thursday the tile crew is planning the layout and cutting tile as needed. On Friday, they’ll mix thin set mortar and actually lay the tile. On Monday, they’ll return to grout the tile.

Kitchen floor in orange
The shape of the new space emerges

The orange area is the DITRA membrane. The label at the utility closet corner and the label at the right door jamb fall pretty close to the cabinet lines allowing visualization of the kitchen work area.

Adrian Tile and Wood Flooring

http://www.adriantilehardwood.com/home.html

Adrian Tile is doing the flooring work for this project. They have a good reputation in the community and are able to work in both wood and tile which made the planning of the wood to tile interface easy. The wood crew and the tile crew are young but know their craft. My project manager, Evan Kittrel, and the craftsmen reviewed the drawings and planned all of the boarders at the start of work. The crew fit the Schluter DITRA membrane, and worked the new wood in with the old in a very professional manner.

No job is simple!

Although it appears easy, this job threw a curve or two at the installers. The plan is to put T-molding at the joints between tile and wood and this required some thought. Where should the visible tile-wood joints be? The idea is to have a butt joint between the T-moding and cabinet trim. This means wood under the cabinets just a bit at the lounge end of the kitchen.

The second tricky bit was to locate the peninsula wood to tile joint under the cabinet but at a point where the down draft hood vent could be cut through the wood.This worked out to the location you see in the photol

And no old house is ever on the level. There is a bit of a low spot at the outside corner to the right. The plan is to use a bit extra thin set there to level the floor but it is something we can’t calculate so Evan scored an additional bag of thin set mix to allow for the unpredictable extra.

Tile laid without mortar
Trial Dry Lay

Extending the wood into the kitchen requires following the original staggering of planks.

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Weaving the new wood into the old. This technique makes the floor strong and attractive by staggering the plank to plank end joints in a stepped fashion.

Life during the job

The crew has also been a hit with the dogs and have been good at briefing me on the things I needed to know to keep their work pristine while the job is in progress. We’ll be without the tile area Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. On Thursday, the tile will be dry placed on the slightly warped floor. In this condition, it is not completely supported and subject to bending loads from walking. The dogs and I have to stay off during this period of storage in place. On Friday, the tile will be set but the mortar remains squishy for 12 hours of so. The crew recommends that we stay off until Sunday morning to ensure that the mortar has cured without shifting a tile out of plane or disturbing the grout joints by catching a nail and dragging a tile. On Monday, we’ll need to stay off again to allow the grout to cure without nail marks.

Upstaged by a Houndy

Sam’s BellaBob has been putting me to shame with her regular posts. I’ve been slacking off but not for want of things to write about. In early July I took a road trip to visit the Watson Cousins Reunion and the remodel project has been gathering momentum. Since I last wrote, plaster has happened, painting has begun with the new plaster, walls, and ceiling painted, there is a stack of flooring out of the frame and tile in the garage.

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Picking Materials

One of the challenges of remodeling is all of the decorating choices you must make without much in the way of a frame of reference. These choices, once made, can last the life of the structure and changing one’s mind is costly. This includes granite and tile for my project. I’ve written about visiting the stone yard and visiting the tile shops. Well, I finally made up my mind.

Granite

The winner is Saint Cecilia Light. Specifically, the stone below and the one behind it from Marva which has the best display of sensibly priced granite in Tidewater.

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Tile

The winning floor tile is Roca Versailles Noce 12×24 (actually modular metric equivalent). This tile harmonizes with the cabinets and countertop. The base color is beige with brown, green, grey, and other colors in a faux travertine pattern. This is a HD printed pattern so it is likely that there won’t be two tiles alike in the floor. I’ve told the dogs that this tile is pre-tracked so they won’t be able to mess it up.

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The winning backsplash tile is Crossfield White Plains 3×6 loose tile shown on the left. The granite below is an example of St Cecelia Light that is much lighter than my material. Same tones, just more white feldspar in the stone. This tile is porcelain HD printed with a light pattern that should echo the colors in the granite.

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Visiting Tile Shops

In a large metropolitan area, such as the Virginia Tidewater, there are a number of tile stores, some manufacturer specific and some representing several manufacturers. You’d think tile shopping would be simple but it is not.

Home Depot and Loews

They have about everything including tile. The thing to watch about the big box stores is that they may have tile from multiple manufacturing batches on the shelf. Colors can vary from batch to batch so if you buy from them, buy only unopened boxes and check that each box is from the same production lot.

The Local Stores

Florida Tile and Dal Tile (a Mohawk company) have local brand stores in the 757. The Florida store is the nicer of the two with attractive displays and attention to light color quality in the store. Both are frustrating because they organize the tiles by marketing series rather than in some useful way.

We also have Morris Tile, Mosaic Tile, and Triton Stone, two independent tile distributors and a stone yard that sell to the trade and to DIY. These shops carry tiles from multiple manufacturers but are very different in their approach to curating what they offer. Mosaic Tile is the shop that gets it right. What Mosaic does that the others don’t is to curate the tiles by look and color. For example, all the beige faux stone tiles are together. And the beige wood look and beige solid color, and beige granite, marble, and travertine stone tiles are together. It’s genius. So obvious but, in the 757, only Mosaic does it.

And for my project the winner is Mosaic

Mosaic where I made my selections. That said, my contractor hires the tile installer and the installer or contractor actually buys material. Both my builder and a retired kitchen designer friend suggested Mosaic and I’m glad I made the trip. Their shop is newly moved to former Hanger 9 flight simulator arcade near Lynnhaven Blvd in Virginia Beach. Mosaic remodeled this old warehouse building near Barrett Auctions to have a spacious layout that is greyhound friendly and allowed me to bring Missy and Nick in. The perimeter of the store has a number of example kitchen and bath installations that you can use for inspiration. The receptionist explained the store organization and turned us loose to browse.

It was easy to find the look i desired and the colors I was after. I was able to find a nice creamy faux travertine that would harmonize nicely with cherry finished maple cabinets and the likely granite contenders. Once I found what I was looking for, they made a record of my preferences, let me check out a sample, and sent me on my way with a data sheet that my installer could use to select the materials he needed to do the installation.

At the other shops it was hard to find the Goldie Locks tile, the one with enough color and pattern to be interesting but not boring and not shouty. What Mosaic did was to split each manufacturer series by dominant color so the gray one would be with the grays, the green one with the greens, and the brown one with the browns. The effect of this is to group a slice of the color wheel by look making it easy to find that Goldie Locks pattern.

Mosaic’s Sample Policy

One unusual thing Mosaic does is to take a $10 deposit for each sample that will be refunded when the sample is returned. They really want their samples back. But they make it easy by attaching a printed label to each sample identifying the specific material and listing the related sizes and colors. This label clearly identifies the sample as a Mosaic sample so you can take it back to the proper shop.

The samples are usually of one of the mosaic sheets from the pattern and color. Mosaic mounted these to Masonite to protect them from damage and attached the label to the underside of the backer. The mounted sheets are easy to handle and give a more representative idea of the colors and patterns than is seen in a field tile from modern HDP printed patterns. Modern patterns are designed to cover 10×20 feet without repeats. Because they are mosaic sheets made by cutting and mounting bits of field tiles, the samples are several times the cost of a field tile. It is one thing to give away a $1 field tile and another to give away a $10 mosaic sheet.

I’ve got a collection of several samples from the other shops and I can’t remember what came from where to return them. But I have no skin in the game so they probably won’t go back. And to find related items, I have to go back to the website or PDF catalog.

Again genius and so simple and so obvious a practice you’d think it would be common across the industry.

At the stone yard

On Tuesday, Nick, Missy, and I hopped in the GTI to test the new EZpass with a trip to Triton Stone in Portsmouth, Virginia. Triton Stone is our local stone supplier. Triton imports granite, marble, onyx, and quartzite from suppliers world wide. Being a natural product, each piece of stone is unique. The primary constituents of granite are quartz, feldspar, and mica. It is common for garnet to be present also. Impurities influence the color of the garnet, feldspar, quartz, and mica. The relative amounts and arrangement of the different constituents give the stone its look.

What’s in a Name

The producer names each granite. The name suggests a pattern and color and means something to those in the trade but are opaque to those not in the trade. Often the name reflects the primary colors and pattern complexity of the stone and perhaps some of the secondary colors in the stone. Pricing of stone is like pricing of diamonds. If it can be made to appear exotic, rare, or somewhat unique, it costs more. If it is in fashion, it costs more. If the yard is full of it, it costs less. The common stones are

  • Saint Cecelia, and Saint Cecelia Extra A
  • Venetian Ice, Gold, etc
  • Giallo Fioritto (pictured)
  • Giallo Ornamental
  • Kashmir White

These stones have a medium pattern, warm coloring except for the Kashmir White which is a bit icy to my eyes, and a peppering of garnet. These inexpensive stones do not have strong veining.

The Giallo Fioritto stone pictured is a low tier stone. Finely patterned stone, uniformly colored white, ivory, cream, or grey stone, and granite with pronounced feldspar (solid color) or quartz (crystal white or gray) bands are mid-tier or upper tier stones. These stones ofter have red, green or blue accent color mixed with ivory or white.The really unusual colors and patterns of quartzite and onyx are exotic stones.  Strongly colored stones with dramatic structural elements to the pattern are exotic stones.

Remembering what you saw

I can’t remember what a stone looks like so I took photos. On a second trip with overcast sky (high color temperature indirect light), I took photos of stones that were my taste including the end label in the photograph. When I returned home, I spooled the photos off, cropped, straightened, and corrected for illumination to make images like the feature image above. These are proving a big help in remembering what i’ve seen. Unlike Internet images, these are the stones actually available for purchase and the images have not had the snot compressed out of them for quick loading. They are high resolution low compression JPEGS shot using an iPhone 6+. This technique works nicely for the low and mid tier stones. For upper tier and exotic stones, it will be less useful as important feature elements are located away from the label, the fancy stones are in the warehouse, and room is limited to compose photographs that include the stone’s dramatic features that you would be paying for. But you can capture the primary color and character of the stone.

One Name, Many Sources

Stones sharing a name may be from different parts of a single quarry or from one of several quarries that have similar color and pattern. Because stone color and pattern varies from one quarry to another and as a deposit is quarried, color and pattern match is best when the slabs are cut from a single part of the mountain and are used in order sliced. When looking at slabs, you will see that each has been numbered in slice order so they can be sold and used together. When you are choosing stone, you will not know how many will be needed but a small kitchen will require 1 to 2 slabs. A large high end project may require several. The number of slabs needed may rule out some lots of a given stone pattern.

When to use upper tier stone

Use of exotic stones makes sense when the finished stone will express the features that make the stone exotic. If you are cutting the stone for 24 inch counter tops, or cutting openings for sinks and cook tops, you should choose low and mid-tier stones because the final installation may require cutting out the large scale features that give a high tier stone its interest and drama. Tables and large island tops not having sink or cooktop cutouts are an appropriate use for upper tier stone.

Pricing Stone

Stone yards don’t talk prices to clients. The price of a slab at the port is relatively low. The handling of that slab from the port to your home raises the cost. Some factors influencing cost.

  • Freight cost from the port to the fabricator
  • Color and pattern rarity and complexity
  • The amount of cutting (time and abrasive use)
  • The amount of polishing
  • The sealing techniques used
  • The edge treatment used (fancy is more)
  • The cutting of openings
  • The amount of salable remnant left
  • The amount of waste

Different stone yards have different schema for classifying stones by price. Triton talks low, medium, high, and exotic. Other yards have more bands within the readily available stones and several tiers of exotic prices, usually 3, and Trump/Romney stone. No yard associates a price with any of these price bands, just an ordering from low to high that can be determined from the price band name.

Finished Price and Job Price

My contractor priced my job using an allowance of $52 per square foot which covers the more common stones, finishes, edge treatments and cutting of cooktop and sink openings, and reasonable waste. If the finished cost of the stone is more or less, the job cost is adjusted at final settlement. Only the fabricator can get from a slab cost to a delivered cost. The yard can’t price the stone for the client because they don’t know how many slabs a job will require, the amount of salable remnant, or the cost to finish the stone for its intended use.

When to Pick Stone

You need to pick stone pretty early in the project process, first during conceptual design so the contractor can set an allowance rate and again before cabinet fabrication. Because price changes with availability, you need to do it using this two step method.

During bid solicitation pick a reference stone that reflects your taste in color and pattern so the contractor can set an appropriate allowance rate. Once the project is underway, select the specific stone and slabs from the price band used for the estimate. Your contractor will adjust the job price at settlement to reflect the as-built cost of the stone.

Keep in mind that all stone that can be seen together should come from a single slab or consecutive slabs. Stone from different queries or different faces on the mountain will have different color and pattern so all stone that you want matched must be bought together from consecutive slabs. This is why you make a second trip with your fabricator to get the correct number of consecutive slabs.

Stone Pick Drives Tile and Backsplash Picks

The stone hue and saturation drives the tile color and pattern. There is an art to picking tile that is compatible with the color and pattern of your stone. The tile should repeat the hues of the stone but have a simpler pattern so that it is not competing with it. Generally, the tile colors will be less saturated than those in the stone and the pattern will be larger than that of the stone, expressed as random areas of two or three harmonious hues with linear and point features in contrasting colors. My taste runs to a honed finish floor to have good wet slip resistance, hide the week’s dust and dog hair, and avoid glare from overhead lights.

The stone pick also drives the backsplash material pick. Again, the idea is to harmonize with the stone by echoing the field color form the stone with less saturation or by picking a complementary color at low saturation. Travertine or travertine with mosaic feature band are popular. I prefer a honed finish for easy cleaning and a low glare look with the stone variation providing some interest.

Appliance Shopping

When I bought 3444 Fletcher 10 years ago, I did so with the intent of remodeling the bathrooms and kitchen. In 2013, I remodeled the baths. In 2015 I join the ranks of the homeless while the kitchen is remodeled. This is a big project that sacrifices 5 feet or so of the car port to make a family entry, laundry, and pantry space adjacent to a remodeled open plan galley kitchen. This project will have the building apart for six weeks or so for demolition, construction of the addition, structural changes to open the kitchen to the lounge area, etc. During that period, I’ll be without hot water, the laundry, and refrigerated food storage. Once the structural bits are done, there is probably a month of interior finish to paint, install flooring, and install cabinets and appliances.

All of my appliances except the water heater are old and living on borrowed time. It is time to replace oven, cook top, washer, dryer, etc. The state of the appliance market in the United States is weird. Americans seem to want everything bigger rather than better so we have huge refrigerators and laundry machines. With time it becomes harder and harder to find equipment appropriate for older or smaller homes because fashion has moved on. This has caught several of us.

Design-Build

Cousin Bill Watson serves 1 percent clients in the Beach Mountain, NC area. Bill’s clients usually begin a project by hiring an architect and developing plans and specifications for the multi-million dollar projects that his company executes. Now you know why Bill has gray hair! The other 99 percent of us are usually working in a design-build project environment. These projects begin with a conceptual design that is sufficiently detailed to serve as input to the estimating and design processes. The builder engages a designer or architect and structural engineer as needed to develop construction plans in the opening phase of project execution. Most of the detailed design occurs between project award and permit application as foundation and structural drawings are required by the permitting process.

Why Pick Appliances before Award?

Aunt Betty, proud member of the 1 percent, just replaced her built-in refrigerator. The machine had become ill and, apparently, was uneconomical to repair. This turned into a $20,000 project. Built-ins are often 84 inches tall. How do you get it into the house? Will it fit where the old one was? What has to change? Is the condenser built-in or external? Even if you’re not so well off, you face similar issues. Can you get a 36x36x72 inch 400 pound blob through the house and into cabinetry? How does the machine size affect the cabinetry design? How much space is required left, right, behind, and above to actually get the machine in its pooka?

If you have bounding box sizes for each appliance, it becomes a simple matter for the designer, using his 3-D CAD software to verify that each object can be brought in, maneuvered to its proper location, and has service access. With the machine moved out of its pooka, is there sufficient room to replace the various field-replaced subassemblies? Checking now saves grief during interior finish. The washer-dryer was of special concern because it shares a closet with a tankless water heater. If I stack the appliances, can I get the stack in? Can I service it. How does the pooka change for side by side mounting?

Enter Energy Usage Standards

Energy conservation standards began during the first Oil Shock back in 1973-74. The southwest Asia oil producers, miffed by US support of Israel during the Yom Kippur War, cut off oil exports to those who helped Israel. Oil prices soared and some limited rationing began. The formation of the Department of Energy and the beginnings of the Energy Star voluntary efficiency standards and corporate average fuel efficiency (CAFE) standards trace their origins to this period.

In Europe, not having robust fuel sources, energy has always been expensive and European white goods manufacturers have always been at the forefront of innovative appliance design. European manufacturers perfected the front loaded laundry machine. Only one US manufacturer, Westinghouse, attempted to make a home front loader. Being more expensive than top loaders and having door skirt materials problems, Westinghouse abandoned this design in the ’70s. Front loaders were more energy efficient (used less water) and washed better but cheaper won over better in the US.

European homes are also smaller, so European and Asian appliance manufacturers have designed efficient yet compact appliances for their home markets. With the changing regulatory climate in the US and changing customer preferences, they have begun to offer these advanced machines in the US market.

Condensing Dryers

I’ve had a condensing furnace for nine years. Does anybody make condensing dryers? Yes, Whirlpool, Bosch, LG, and Samsung do. How does a condensing dryer work? Regular dryers use an open cycle. They draw in room air, heat it and move it though the drying drum and discharge it to a vent to be released outside the structure. During dryer operation, outside air is drawn into the building and must be heated or cooled.

A condensing dryer uses a closed loop drying cycle. The air handling draws air from the drum, passing it trough an air to air heat exchanger and heater on its return to the drum. A smaller heat source starts the drying process. As the warm air begins to evaporate water from the clothing, the air to air heat exchanger cools the drum exhaust air recapturing the heat that evaporated the water to be used again. The condensed moisture drains to a tank and is pumped to the building drain system.

The most advanced machines of this type use a heat pump to supply the heat input to the drying process. The heat pump extracts heat from the room air and transfers it to the drying air between the condensing heat exchanger and drum. In essence, the heat pump is a small refrigeration machine that heats the dryer air by cooling the room air. The heat transferred to the drying process is greater than the electrical input. There is no free lunch. Building heat gains or the building’s heating plant supplies the heat that is transferred from the room air to the dryer air.

A condensing dryer has the advantage of using only 115 volt power in the US and does not require a vent, just an second drain connection like that used by the washer.

Combo Washer-Dryers

In Europe and Asia, it is popular to install the washer-dryer in the kitchen. By using a front loading design, the same drum and motor can serve both the drying process and the washing process. In both machines, an outer drum surrounds the clothes drum and contains the water or drying air. The washer is the more demanding of the two because the drum must be water tight. Water tight is also air tight. It is a simple matter to package the dryer heater, blower, and condensing heat exchanger in the same cabinet as the washer components.

There is a catch. Combo machines can wash more than they can dry. The machine must be loaded based on its drying wight rather than its washing weight if you intend to wash and dry in a continuous run. If you load the washer to its full rated wash weight, the wet clothes must be split into two drying runs. Being single, it becomes pretty easy to manage my washing to allow the continuous wash dry process. Gone are the days of stuffing the drum full from a heaping laundry basket. This means an additional load each week but washing whites and coloreds separately (sounds a bit Jim Crow) naturally leads in that direction. For those with kids, the battle rhythm is to do a load each day rotating around the household members.

The advantage of a combo washer dryer is that no stacking is needed. This solves the problem of sneaking a tall washer dryer stack past the tankless water heater. Those with large families often buy a matching condensing dryer, load the washer full, and split the drying between the two machines.

Refrigerators

Somehow, the appliance industry has convinced us that we need ever larger refrigerators. When I first moved out on my own, 15-16 cubic foot units were the norm. Today, you are hard pressed to find machines smaller than 21 cubic feet. TARDIS technology not being available, to be larger on the inside, they must be larger on the outside. This results in height, width, and depth growth of machines over time. Mandatory environmental and energy efficiency standards require better and thicker insulation, larger heat exchangers, different refrigerants that don’t burn holes in the ozone layer, etc. All of these technical forces tend to make for a bigger box. In anticipation of this trend, I had a local handyman shorten the cabinet mounted above the refrigerator to accommodate a taller machine should I have to replace mine before I was ready to remodel the kitchen. The new kitchen will be designed with a bit of margin.

Selection Considerations

My space and door constraints require a shallow refrigerator that will fit through the exterior doors. This pushes me to a “cabinet depth” machine. In reality these are 29 to 30 inches deep, 36 inches wide, and 76 inches tall. This is about the largest unit that will come into the building through a 32 inch door, my bounding constraint. When thinking about this stuff, remember the doors and handles. Most “cabinet depth” machines stand proud of the cabinet by the door and handle distance. This is needed to allow opening the doors without requiring additional width to accommodate the open doors. LG is one of the better manufacturers when it comes to giving measuring guides.

US refrigerators are generally Energy Star rated. Energy Star now has tiers. The best machines are tier certified. The European standards and standards process are different and Europe uses 220 volt 50 Hz power. Machines tend to be made for one market or the other. Europe does make smaller cabinet depth, 24 inch machines but these are deemed too small for the bigger is better US market.

Current Fads

The current market taste in refrigerators is for a bottom drawer freezer and top refrigerator with multiple condensers, one for the freezer and a second for the refrigerator. These are a bit more expensive and a bit less efficient than the older top mount design. The advantage is that they offer better access to refrigerated foods. The following factors influence price.

  • Exterior material. Stainless steel is extra
  • Interior bins and shelving.
  • Door bins. More expensive machines have more flexible door bins
  • Freezer drawer bins. More expensive machines provide removable baskets making storage more flexible.
  • In door water and ice dispensers
  • Internal ice maker and water dispensers
  • No ice and water dispensers

Through door ice dispensing failures is the largest cause of machine trouble. An inside bin is fine!

Through door water dispensing is a cleaning problem. The little drop tray loves to grow mold and is the devil to clean. These are two dumb features that I’ll forego.

Cooking

My cooking preferences are for a separate cook top and oven. I like the option of storing the pots and pans beneath the cook top and having the oven at a height that is easy to load and check. I bake bread for myself so having a good oven in a usable location is important. It needn’t be fancy, just predictable in its behavior. Bells and whistles aren’t needed but self-cleaning is nice. In my vegetarian phase, I make the occasional pound cake to celebrate birthdays, roast vegetables, etc. but rarely cook meat or bake cookies (requires too much attention).

I often make beans and rice concoctions with a taste for middle eastern, Caribbean, and African fare that is naturally vegetarian and makes rich use of spices. Every now and again, I’ll make a batch of all meat chilli for the freezer and space out its consumption to keep the gut beasties mostly vegetarian.

Cook Tops

This is my one splurge in a more moderately priced kitchen. I’ve been living with a radiant cook top and like it but it stays hot making it a bit of a safety hazard if a curious dog puts paws up on a hot element. That led me to consider an induction cook top. Talking with friend Pat Ives, she has a new one and likes it after making the move from radiant.

Radiant or Induction

One of the great things about both radiant and induction is that pan temperature responds pretty quickly to controls. It is as convenient as gas in this regard, just not as hot as a restaurant gas burner. Stuff has to be cooked in smaller batches.

Interestingly, induction is beginning to rule for sauce and desert-making tasks in restaurant cooking. Induction is becoming preferred for soups and sauces because of its feedback control of pan temperature and uniform heating of the pan bottom for temperature sensitive processes. Controlled even heat is an advantage for frying bacon, scrambling eggs, cooking steaks and burgers, etc. On the rare occasions that I cook meat, I’d just as soon not have an operational test of the smoke alarms. With radiant, I’ve let the pan temperature get away and listen to the alarms for an hour!

An advantage of both induction and radiant over gas is that they provide smooth counter space when not actually in use for cooking. Skoshi counter top, I knead bread and do other non-violent tasks on the smooth surface of the radiant cook top.

Being leery of  electronic controls, I opted for knobs when I purchased the radiant top. This time I’ll go with touch controls. Touch is the only way to get the magical features.

How Induction Works

Induction cook tops use electromagnetic skin effect to induce circulating currents directly in the cookware. For this to work, the cookware must have magnetic material, usually cast iron, carbon steel, or magnetic stainless steel (18-8) in the cookware shell. The material may be cast, roll bonded, or bonded during the stamping process. All induction cook tops, portable and built in, have pot sensors and will trip when the pot is removed or will not start if the pot has too little magnetic material to work correctly. Magnetic disks are available to use with non-magnetic specialty pots. These work like the old solid disk cook tops of the 80’s.

Cooktop Size

Larger gets more elements and more flexibility of use but requires a 40 amp circuit. Most 30 inch cooktops require a 30 amp circuit. Something to keep in mind. If you are running new wire, run a 40 amp circuit even if you install a 30 inch cooktop. If you switch sizes down the road, you are good to go. I ran into this when replacing a 70’s cooktop with a modern cooktop. The newer product needed a 40 amp circuit even though the one it replaced was 36 inches. Once you have a cutout, you’re pretty much committed to that size for the life of the counter top which can be forever with granite. Unlike refrigerators, cooktop sizes have stayed in the 30 to 36 inch range. Fortunately, they’ve not grown to aircraft carrier size.

The 30 inch cooktops usually have 4 usable elements, and 11 inch element, a pair of 8 or 9 inch elements, and a six inch element. The 36 inch cooktops usually have an 11 inch element, a pair of 8 or 9 inch elements, and a pair of 6 inch elements. As mentioned above pot and element size must be matched fairly well. A large 11 inch element will not be happy with a couple of quart sauce pans sitting on it.

Pots and Pans:

Induction requires that pots and pans be magnetic. The magnetic tricker that makes induction cook tops work requires matching of pot to element. The two must be of similar size. Induction cook tops have sensors that stop the cooking process if a pan is not present or does not interact with the magnetic field correctly. The following types of cookware are known to work.

  • Magnetic stainless steel like those made by All-Clad
  • Other cookware with the induction symbol stamped on the bottom
  • Cast iron cookware like that made by Lodge
  • Carbon steel cookware like that made by Lodge

Today, a helical squiggle stamped on the pot base identifies induction capable pots. If this pot is not Lodge cast iron and does not have the squiggle, don’t buy it. Even if you have a radiant cooktop, new pan purchases should be induction capable pans.

Fussy Cooktops

Pots and element sizes must be matched. Putting a small pot on a large element will cause the element to ignore the pot. Pot and element must be close in size for the element to recognize the pot and heat it. This and the sensitivity to material caused some interesting behavior in older induction cooktops confronted with randomly chosen but induction ready pots.

YouTube has a number of videos of confused cooks trying to cook with “induction rated” cookware that their stove cannot sense. Sometimes the stove ignores the pot entirely. Other pots are sensed on some burners but not others or if they are moved onto the cooktop just so. This seems to be an issue with earlier cooktops and with Asian brands.

Bosch has a feature in its Benchmark cooktops called Flexinduction. What Bosch did was to make a rectangular cooking zone having four elliptical coils that can function independently with small pots, in pairs with larger pots, and together to heat a grill or griddle. These elements have been designed to be pot insensitive. Bosch has a video of a demo unit made with a white top and back lights showing the active element. They put a pot on, move it back and forth, and the light follows the pot, firing one or two elements as the pot moves off of one element to a second. This top was able to heat a small espresso maker, a 1 quart sauce pan, 2 quart sauce pan, etc. The elements may be used independently, in pairs, or in fours.

In its other lines, Bosch makes a point of mentioning that it has robust pot sensing logic. Apparently, they are well aware of this issue and have been careful to design the pot sensing to be robust and predictable.

When not to call the Bath Fitter

This is a picture of the head wall of the hall bath tub surround. When I bought the house, the 50’s blue tile was cracked with what appeared to be grout or caulk in the cracks. The original owner (I’m the second) tried to make a voyage repair. Given that everything was 50’s ugly and tired, the plan was to renovate in 2007. My employer had other ideas and shipped me off to Newport Rhode Island. While up there, the house was on the rental market and the mold kept eating.
Image

I returned in June 2010 and started planning for retirement including a resumption of the restoration of 3444 Fletcher. Last fall (October 2012) I attended the home show to see what had happened and hoping to meet a contractor interested in my project. Bath Fitter was there for show and tell and would happily put new acrylic surfaces over my tired tub and tile. But doing a little reading and knowing there was trouble with the original 1950’s work, a traditional renovation was indicated.

The original construction used drywall for most of the bath surfaces but the wet areas were  a scratch coat of plaster on wire lath with tile on top. The scratch coat is porous and a bit crumbly. The working of the walls with time apparently had caused some failures in the plaster which wedged between the tile and plaster causing linear cracks just above the spout and around the corner. Water’s surface tension dragged it into the cracks and the wood became just a little wet. Just wet enough for those black pets to grow. Bath Fitter was willing to cover all of that up with faux tile.

The proper repair is to remove the original interior finish materials, remove the eaten wood, sister up new studs along side the originals and flush with the originals (they are 2×4 for real, not 1.5 by 3.5 or so). They are also dense hard old growth, not farmed stuff. Once studs are repaired, new Durarock or Wonder Board (cement wall board) goes up, acrylic sealer is applied, and tile over the Durarock. That’s the right way to do it. While we’re at it, we’ll also replace the galvanized waste piping with PVC, upgrade the electrical, and insulate the exterior wall.

At the home show, I met Ron Blount, owner of Blount Custom Homes. He’s a Tidewater Home Builder’s guild member and occasional participant in the home show build. He does larger custom homes and a lot of kitchen and bath work. I happened by while the market was still slumbering so he came out for a consultation, worked up a design, and made a proposal which I accepted. The project has gone very well with the first results in use as seen below.

When we finish the hall bath, the look will be similar to the master bath below. This is about a $13 K project including the custom vanity and mirror made by a local cabinet shop. The fittings are Kohler Tubi. The cabinet depth is matched to the wall set back. These photos were taken with available light hand held. The shower recessed light is on. The lamp is a CREE LED warm white recessed trim rated for wet areas. EcoSmart (Home Depot house brand) assembled the lamp from CREE LEDS and powered electronics made in the Triangle. Home Depot also has Edison base CREE lamps in warm and daylight. These are nice!

Blount Custom Homes has a crew of good subs but does most of their own carpentry, similar to Tommy Silva’s model but perhaps not quite as much high end. A Mexican American crew did the dry wall. Norfolk country boys did the plumbing and wiring. and Troy of Straight Line Tile did the tile work. Troy is an unflappable perfectionist. His work in the shower amazes me every day. He did a super job working in the alcove and the change from 12×12 tile to 6×6 tile at the top. Evan and Ron helped me pick appropriate materials and design elements appropriate to a ’50s mid-Century rambler. The nice cabinets, mirror, and shower door just appeared after some discussion of my preferences. This project took a good bit of faith on my part but it has gone well so far.

Mirror and trim up