Jennifer's Kitchen: The Home Stretch

Renovation Diary

If you didn't know that the plumbing wasn't connected and didn't notice the lack of backsplash tile, you'd almost think the kitchen was finished!
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Name: Jennifer Pade
Type of Project: Kitchen remodel
Location: West Village, New York, New York
Type of building: 300 square foot apartment in a co-op building

The Renovation Diaries are a collaboration with our community in which we feature your step by step renovation progress and provide monetary support towards getting it done in style. See all of our Reno Diaries here.

On Monday a friend took me to the Brooklyn IKEA to return the cabinetry I didn’t need and to pick up all the pieces we were missing: cabinet pulls and doors, a drawer to go below the oven, and some other small stuff. We spent a ridiculous amount of time waiting in line at IKEA, but it was fun to look at everything, and their customer service is fantastic. It’s kind of like being at Disneyland, except there are no fireworks and the only things to eat are Lingonberry jam and Swedish meatballs. My friend deserves a medal for spending four hours at the store with me. We were both suffering from slightly low blood sugar and Stockholm Syndrome by the time we left the Returns Department.

My new PAX wardrobe from IKEA only happened because I decided to put the kitchen flooring all the way into the bedroom. Great excuse to buy more at IKEA!
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While we were at IKEA I purchased a 93” high PAX wardrobe for my bedroom. Since my bedroom was emptied out to make room for the new flooring, it seemed like an opportunity to replace my old wardrobe at the same time. The PAX wardrobes can be configured in multiple ways, so I got double hanging rails, two drawers, and two shelves. So much storage space! My friend helped me decide on door finishes and pulls because my brain is completely overloaded with decision-making at this point.

I love the new countertops an am very happy with my decision to go with a 2-burner cooktop. More countertop space is always good.
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The most welcome news this week was that the kitchen countertops were finished being cut ahead of schedule and were delivered and installed on Tuesday. The Caesarstone “Concrete” finish goes beautifully with the white cabinets, and should work well with the pale green glass backsplash tile I purchased that day from Tile Spark in Chelsea, NYC.

Shopping for backsplash tile at Tile Spark in Chelsea, NYC. Both Ray from Tile Spark and my architect wanted me to get the gray/blue tile, but I love the green!
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After agonizing over whether to go with the pale green or a sophisticated gray-blue, I went with the green. I think it will be more neutral and complement the dark gray countertops nicely. The tile was delivered on Friday and will be cut and installed early next week. Once the countertops went in, the sink, faucet and cooktop were installed (although the plumbing is still not connected.)

I would like to have had a piece of stone here instead of metal, but they did a nice job on the repair, anyway.
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Speaking of tile, the team found a match for my bathroom tile and repaired the step up to the bathroom. I was hoping to have a piece of stone there instead of the metal that they used, but when the bathroom was renovated several years ago, apparently the subfloor wasn’t done correctly, which caused many of the tiles above it to crack. My contractor did a great job on this repair, though, and I think it looks good.

Moving back in before the work was done couldn't be helped, but it's nice to be home even if the kitchen isn't usable yet.
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On Friday I moved back into the apartment (a new tenant was moving into the place I temporarily rented.) The kitchen work isn’t finished, but I had to move back in. The movers brought everything over, and all of it just had to fit in with all the ladders, saws and other equipment the team is still using. Because this is a holiday week, neither the plumber nor the electrician have returned yet to complete their work. So when I moved back in, the only room in the apartment that had power was the kitchen. (The bathroom has power, but there’s still no outlet or light switch installed, so no way to turn on the lights.) And the dishwasher and sink haven’t been hooked up to the plumbing yet.

My sister is convinced I will burn down the building before the electrician returns next week to turn all the power back on.
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So I’m washing dishes in the bathroom sink — in the dark. And showering — in the dark. And I’ve created a potential fire hazard by connecting multiple extension cords together to try to get lights on in the living room and bedroom. Should be an interesting weekend. I’m really looking forward to the return of the plumber and electrician next week!

The GE Advantium Speed Oven is only slightly less sophisticated than my Macintosh computer. I've named it HAL.
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The cooktop and the GE Advantium speed oven are functional, however, and I’m attempting to learn how to use the oven. It’s all computerized and will take some time to figure out, but it looks like it does just about everything. It has settings for melting butter, proofing dough, baking, toasting, roasting, and grilling. It’s effectively a microwave, a traditional oven, a convection oven, and a toaster all in one. I call it saving space!

Two things I’ve wanted from the beginning of this project were a pull-out pantry and lighted upper cabinets. I’ve obsessed over having a pull-out pantry for at least a year. I can’t count how many times I’ve purchased a pantry item — ­ sugar, flour, whatever — only to discover that I already have some in the back of the cabinet. So I was very keen on having a pantry that could be pulled out and viewed in full. But once all my new cabinetry was installed, it became clear that there was simply no logical place to put such a thing. My architect had designated the narrow lower cabinet next to the bathroom for this purpose, but when I saw that cabinet installed, I realized I’d have to crouch down to the floor every time I pulled out the pantry. Plus, it was too narrow to hold much of anything anyway. So I’ve given up on the idea and am having shelves installed instead. Someday, somewhere else I’ll have a full-height pull-out pantry, but not in this tiny 8x6 kitchen!

The other thing I hoped for was upper-cabinet lighting. Once the upper cabinets were installed, however, it seemed that there was no reason for them to be lit. Between the natural light coming in through the window and the bright recessed ceiling lights, the room has plenty of light. So I nixed the upper-cabinet lighting, which gives the team more time to do other things.

Spencer, receiving the tile and grout delivery.
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What’s left? The backsplash tile won’t be installed until next week and there are still doors, shelves and pulls missing from cabinets. The radiator, which has been relocated next to the electrical panel, needs to be boxed in to hide it from view. Under-cabinet lighting and plug molds haven’t yet been installed, and will have to be done next week. Once the electrician and plumber return, the majority of work will be complete. Six weeks in and (fingers crossed) one more to go!

Estimated time for project: 7 weeks
Time remaining: 1 weeks

Check out the full series (so far) and be sure to join us next week for installment #10 of Jennifer's Kitchen Renovation.

(Images and diary text: Jennifer Pade)

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Renovation Diary: Jennifer's Kitchen

(Image credits: Jennifer Pade; number)