Looking Back

We are obviously still really behind on this blog, but we haven’t forgotten about it. As we approach the two-year anniversary of when our contractor began demolishing our old kitchen, I wanted to take a look back at how that space has changed during these two years. Two years ago, in October 2014, we still had a kitchen, but it was about to be taken apart and put in a dumpster. It looked like this:





Tiny laundry room off the kitchen

One year ago, in October 2015, we were putting insulation in the walls of our addition and preparing for drywall. The kitchen looked like this:





And now, here we are in October 2016. Our kitchen is not 100% complete, but it is fully functional. I know most of you don’t think about it every day, but it’s kind of awesome to have a kitchen in one’s house. There are so many blog posts that need to be written to show how we got to this point, but for now, the semi-finished product looks like this:






Right Here, Right Now

So…apparently when one is doing actual work on one’s house, one does not have time to blog about the work that one is doing. We have gotten so horribly behind on this that it feels overwhelming even to think about getting caught up. Instead, I will simply share a few pictures of our kitchen as it actually is right now, and maybe someday we will have a chance to write about all the things that led up to this point.


The IKEA cabinets are in, we’re just figuring out countertops.


Ignore all the blue, that’s just a protective film.



Bonus! Here’s what our kitchen looked like last April:


Our contractor had just finished connecting the old part of the house to the addition.

Installing an HVAC System, Part 1

Sorry if you have been on the edge of your seat waiting to learn about what house stuff we’ve been up to lately. Today we summarize (some of) the trials and tribulations of installing our second heat pump system. A couple years ago, you may recall, we installed one for the upstairs to replace its “natural convection” heating.

The new system serves the first floor and the basement and replaces the ancient gas furnace that was removed during construction. While we were at it, we went ahead and replaced all the ductwork and the old register covers, just for fun — and because the old ones were rusty and full of dead camel crickets. The process took a few months.IMG_5440

Acquiring the unit itself is always something of a challenge. You can’t just order it on Amazon, apparently. An HVAC technician acquaintance of Amanda’s dad ordered it for us at a distributor. We got one that was slightly more efficient than the current standard in-stock models, so it took a few days to arrive. When it did, we were able to pick it up without the technician being present – but I don’t think we would have been allowed to order it by ourselves.


Amanda’s dad and I did our best to level the sloping ground in the area where the new unit would sit. I think the two units are technically too close to each other and the house, but what can you do when you are sandwiched between a gas meter, a house, a hill, and a super-close property line?


The new unit is a 2-ton unit, and the old is a 1.5-ton, thus the larger compressor.

Once we got the outdoor unit (the compressor) and the indoor unit (the air handler) in place, it was time to figure out the duct work. Unlike the upstairs system, this one has two returns (where air is sucked into the system for heating or cooling), one in the basement and one in the kitchen. As a result, we needed a longer return than last time, when we made the return with plywood and flex duct. This time we chose to have a rigid metal return built for us, along with a short trunk line to carry the conditioned air to two large flex ducts. This is nice, except that you have to be really good at measuring, since you’re just giving measurements to the fabricator.


Supply trunk line – looking a little like a robot.


Return line.

Setting the return and trunk line in place on top of the unit was a puzzle, and things were tight – a bit too tight, to be honest. We had to shift the trunk line over a bit to get it to go up through the floor where it needed to fit. Since we did things backwards (you should always put the biggest things in the walls first), there were electrical cables in the way, some of which had to be removed and rerouted.


Securing the top of the return line.


Setting the supply trunk line in place.

In hindsight, we should have measured again before getting the pieces made, since we ended up having to get another duct piece made in order to shift the return line over to fit through the opening between levels. It all worked out though.


Making the opening as big as possible.

We cut the holes for the returns out of the big piece that we had ordered, and were able to use the extra metal from the larger return opening to create a cap on top of the return line. Pre-drywall, we covered the large hole in the kitchen with plywood to avoid having small children be mesmerized by the opening and either fall into it or drop various items into it.


Next time: flex duct, register boxes, and more!


Time to Get Caught Up

I will begin by apologizing that we got so incredibly behind on our blog posts over the last couple of months. Once we had our rough-in inspection, there was so much to do that we spent almost all of our extra minutes working on the house — and then it was the holidays. We still have lots of house stuff to work on, but things have calmed down a little bit, so I’m hoping that we can start getting caught up on posts about the projects we were busy doing for those months.

Here’s a list of some blog posts we need to write to catch up to where we are in real life:







-Master closet


-Half bath

During those busy months of house stuff, we also managed to celebrate a few things:



Micah’s birthday





and Peter’s birthday.


If you have a strong desire to read about one of the topics above, say so in the comments and we just might prioritize writing that one next. Or we will ignore the will of the majority just like we did with the kitchen floor designs.

And The Winner Is…

…The Spiral! Okay, technically it wasn’t the winner. It actually got the least votes. But Peter and I liked it the most and the boys liked it the most. When Jonah picked the spiral over the basketweave pattern, he said “It’s like a maze into the middle. It’s a square spiral. It’s very funny.” When I showed Micah the pictures of the options, he emphatically pointed to the spiral. It has already proved to be a lot of fun for the kids!

Kitchen spiral

At some point in the future, we will post more about the process of installing it and about all of the other house things we have been busy doing. We have gotten incredibly behind on the blog posts, because we have been using all of our free time working on the house. It has come a long way in the last six weeks!

Kitchen Floor Patterns

We are planning to use Marmoleum Click linoleum tiles in our half bathroom, laundry room, kitchen and master bathroom. We have settled on patterns for the half bath and laundry room. We aren’t really making a plan for the master bath ahead of time; it’s going to get the extra tiles from the other rooms and we will do our best using those. We are trying to decide on a pattern for the kitchen though. We have come up with 32 different designs (some are just variations of others), and have more or less narrowed it down to three options.

Our colors are Volcanic Ash (dark grey), Raven (black), Eternity (light grey), and Bleeckerstreet (red). Only one of the patterns utilizes the Eternity color.

Volcanic Ash

Volcanic Ash






Bleeckerstreet (the real thing is a little bit darker)

The outer two rows will be covered by white cabinets in a lot of the kitchen. I think we would be fine with any of the options, but they are very different from each other. Help us decide how best to arrange these colors.

Kitchen Option A

Option A: “The Rug”

Kitchen Option B

Option B: “The Basketweave”

Kitchen Option C

Option C: “The Spiral”

Take our poll to let us know which option you think we should choose, and we would appreciate any additional thoughts you have about these patterns. Thanks!

Built-In Bookshelf

We have been working feverishly for the past few weeks since we passed our rough-in inspection, so we have gotten a little behind on writing about what we have done. For now, here is something that someone else did for us.

When the back of our house was torn off last year, it left three places that were no longer functioning as they were originally built: a small attic door in our current bedroom, a window in our current bedroom, and a doorway at the end of our hallway on the main level of the house. We thought about making all of them into built-in bookshelves, but in the end, we decided to do that with only one, the window in our current bedroom.


Before the window was taken out in March.

This bedroom is relatively small compared to the other two bedrooms in the house, and now it only has one window, so it seems fair that it should get something as cool as a bookshelf built into an old window frame.


Opening from the bedroom side.


Opening from the hallway side.

Peter and I are not skilled carpenters (at all). So we enlisted the help of the Small Jobs Team from our church. Larry was kind enough to take on the task and came several times to take measurements and plan for the job. Two weeks ago, he and Robby came to build the bookshelf. Before they came to our house, they swung by Lowe’s and picked up some plywood we needed, which saved us from having to borrow someone’s pickup truck to get it ourselves (a huge help!).


Helping Peter get the plywood into the attic (Peter is up there, pulling).

They worked hard for a couple of hours hauling plywood inside and building the bookshelf. They definitely earned their Spudnuts. The bookshelf looks great. There is no way Peter and I could have done it and had it turn out like this. It looks very professional and they took great care in making it right.


Yay bookshelf!



I still need to paint it (which won’t happen until sometime in 2016) and we need to put the window trim back across the top. But for now, we have a functioning bookshelf instead of a hole in the wall, which is a pretty amazing transformation.


The back of the bookshelf, on the hallway side.

The shelves are only 4 inches deep because that’s how deep the window was, but it will hold plenty of knickknacks, small books, and pictures. Micah was super excited to put things on it, so he spent a while the next day bringing me books and other items that would fit.


It’s perfect for small board books.

I love the bookshelf and I really appreciate Larry and Robby spending their time working on it. Thanks!