Friday, June 4, 2010

A Kitchen Remodel by Papa Bear

Papa Bear has a true talent for home improvement and remodeling. In addition to the many projects he's undertaken on our homes (past and present), including a master suite addition above our garage, he also sometimes takes on projects for friends, family and aquaintences. A few months ago, in response to the lamentations of one of our homeschool group moms over the impending remodel of their kitchen, I volunteered Papa Bear's services, just to look over her plans and see if there was any way he could ease the process for her.

Papa's specialty, you see, is not just going in and handling a remodeling from start to finish (although he can do that, too). His specialty is helping homeowners with their remodeling projects, preferably teaching them about the process and the techniques as the project progresses. He encourages homeowners to invest their own "sweat equity" right along side him so they can save on labor costs. And, hopefully, by the time the job is done, the homeowner will have enough confidence to handle any future projects, with or without his assistance. Cool, huh?

So, here's the whole story, in Papa Bear's words. But, first, a photo of the finished product.

What a lovely place to cook in.... (pic #4)

This little project started out after park day when my lovely bride volunteered me to play consultant for a homeschooling friend who was completely frustrated and overwhelmed with the Big Box store experience of trying to remodel their kitchen. The next evening after playing racquetball, I popped over and spent a couple of hours meeting with P and her husband S to learn what their (her) objective was.

In that brief visit, I learned what she wanted as an end result and asked a few key questions to help me understand what obstacles (or perceived obstacles) were in the way. I didn’t take me very long to realize and make a couple of obvious recommendations to them (maybe drastic is more like it for someone who’s never done this before). So, I decided to walk them through the various simple elements involved with being HER OWN general contractor over the various trades rather than relying on L’s or HD's to do it all for her. This approach helped her avoid their standard 20% mark up on everything. I offered my behind-the-scenes guidance throughout the entire process (Oh, all-mighty and powerful home-improvement OZ me -- LOL).

This helped her glean the confidence she needed to move forward. By taking this approach, she was subsequently able to save enough money to afford the materials she wanted rather than having to settle for lesser quality. She picked out all the materials (cabinets, countertop and tile) and design style with the help of her friend. The cabinet company installed the cabinets and the countertop company installed the new granite countertop as well as the new under-mount sink. I took her and her son for a 4-hour tile venture to Floor and D├ęcor in order to help guide them through the tile/grout selection process (somewhat daunting at this tile warehouse environment.
They asked me to help demo out all of the old cabinets/countertops and appliances; as well as do minor drywall repairs, plus install the new appliances exhaust vent ductwork for the stove hood (oh, and wasn’t that just a hoot since the cabinet company failed to cut the holes large enough or even in line for 7” ductwork to fit!). P also asked me to install the tile backsplash, too. This gave me the opportunity of teaching her husband and son how to work with tile/grout for the first time (hey, we’re all home educators here – right?!).

Pics #1 and #2 were taken just after the tile was installed (notice the spacers are still in place). Pics #3 and #4 were taken after we completed the grout, caulk and sealant. The river rock liners’ being used as a backsplash border was her idea but being used vertically on the ends and in the corner was mine. And, I just love how the river rock reflects onto the granite in the corners . . .

Pic #1

Pic #2

Pic #3

In the end, this project took roughly (1) month from start to finish and P was SO PLEASED with how relatively painlessly and quickly it all came together. I know you can’t tell, but I just TRULY LOVE helping to bring this kind of happiness and joy to someone’s home/life – very fulfilling!!!

1 comment:

  1. It looks soooo good! I love the tile work. Perfect!