Monday, April 28, 2014

No Stove

This post, and its title, were composed in my head on Friday.  Because that was the stove's delivery day.  I had already called on Tuesday and Thursday that week just to make sure that nothing had gone wrong, since they were supposed to call me before Friday to schedule an exact delivery time and apparently I was antsy.  I was sure something would go wrong.  On Tuesday, they told me that the stove was delayed.  Horreur!  I was to call Thursday and see whether it had shown up.  I called Thursday morning, prepared to be told it had been diverted to Hawai'i (from California, by the way).  I was told it was scheduled to arrive at the DC-area warehouse that afternoon, and I should call to check then.  So I did (bringing me to call #3, regarding a delivery with no known problems).  So I called.  I was told it had arrived.  And that that meant it should show up at my house on Friday.  I would be called by a robot Thursday evening, to tell me exactly when the stove was coming.  So I turned my phone ringer all the way up and reminded myself of all those things about patience I was told as a child. 

Twenty minutes later, I was severely startled by my obnoxiously cheerful ringtone.  It was someone from the warehouse, informing me that there would be a delay.  Impossible!  I had paranoically checked on this very thing.  I had just been told that the stove was there.  The caller explained: by "delay" was meant that the stove was damaged.  Uh-huh.  Well, the stove was damaged when I bought it; it was a floor model.  No, I was told: there was now additional damage - it had had a scratched side, but now there was damage to the front: scratches on the handle, specifically.  Severe enough, apparently, that the warehouse was concerned about whether I would want it.  (I still wasn't getting "delay" out of this.) 

As it happens, we had friends coming by on Friday - a couple who lives in another state and doesn't get to visit often - with their eight children.  (Yes, eight.  Including twin babies.)  Having a stove show up in the middle of this (and then a plumber, if I could possibly schedule him for the same day) would be interruption enough.  But a defective stove that needed to be sent back?  I asked for photos of the new damage.  I was told that this was categorically impossible.  At this point - despite my ongoing resolution to be civil to customer service people - I was severely irritated.  Fine, you refuse to take photos.  But don't pretend that's one of those immutable laws of physics.  Your company set this no-photos-at-the-warehouse policy, and now you are making me deal with it.  And yes, I am going to be crabby about it.  I was unwilling to reject it sight unseen, however; as I may have mentioned, I've been contemplating replacing stove handles in general, and I would rather have a (small) future project than no stove.  (Especially because I thought it would be reasonable to expect a further discount due to the additional damage.) 

They said that I could reject it upon delivery.  So I told them to go ahead with the robot scheduler, and the robot called that evening, and said that the stove would appear between 11:45 and 1:45 - right when we were planning to have lunch with our friends.  I figured that this was one of those "they won't be accurate anyway no matter what time you say" things, so I didn't try to change the time.  They did, in fact, appear during lunch (happily everyone was already seated and eating).  The delivery men kindly unwrapped the stove for me while it was on the lift gate, so they didn't have to bring it in.  Which never proved necessary.  Whatever was the cause of the damage (I'm guessing someone backed a forklift into it), it had knocked the handle off on one side (it looks like it could have been reattached), and left a 3" wide diagonal dent across the face of the door.  A dent about 1/4" deep.  It would be the first thing you'd notice as you look at the oven - a really nasty gash, and not reparable by any means that I know.  And I can't be sure whether it would affect the insulation of the door (an issue with which I am already more familiar than I would like to be). 

In a rare flash of presence of mind, I took not one but two cell phone photos of the stove.  In the bright sun, I figured even my cell phone camera would get a good shot.  What I did not count on was the interaction between sunlight and stainless steel.  The front of the stove is washed out; damage that was glaringly obvious to the eye is invisible in the photos!  So I am not sharing them here.  Suffice it to say - it looked wounded. 

Of course, injury aside, this was my first opportunity to meet the stove in person.  I had been wondering whether I would like it as much as its picture.  In fact, I liked it more.  When I saw that gash, I was sad, because I really wanted that stove.  I just knew I couldn't deal with that much damage, so I sent it back, and went inside to finish my lunch.  Two more phone calls were required that day before they could process my refund, which they said would come through within a week at latest. 

That brought me to my back-up plan: ordering color samples from Big Chill, and buying their pro-style range.  I had very mixed feelings about this.  On the one hand, it would un-hitch my kitchen from the stainless steel trend (the Big Chill item is partly stainless, but mostly colored).  And it probably has excellent engineering.  And it has fantastic burner specs (inside the oven too).  On the other hand, it doesn't have any of the programming options of the stove I ordered.  (Granted a lot of electronics means a lot of things to break, but I've used lots of stoves with timers and so forth that worked fine for many years.)  And it doesn't have the fun retro look - which, as I said, I liked even better in person.  And it's up off the floor - a great look in general, but not as great for my kitchen.  Oh, and that raised look means less pan storage space - something I was looking forward to keeping.  And then there's that little thing about the extra $1000. 

But beyond that, there was the fact that the stove I ordered, I had chosen.  I had finished.  And I liked it.  And then it came all the way to my driveway, and I liked it more.  And I wanted it to stay, but it couldn't.  I didn't want to start all over again, with attendant sadness.  But Maytag doesn't make that vintage-style stove any more; the Sears Outlet is just selling off the last few floor models they have left.  And they all have significant cosmetic damage and cost more than the one I bought (which had less damage - I can't explain that).  So this morning, before calling Big Chill to order the color samples, I decided I would check the Sears Outlet site one last time and see whether another, un-damaged floor model might have shown up. 

Sadly, it hadn't.  But the first item offered for that model available was one I had previously ignored, because (a) the condition description said it had a scratch on the front and (b) the accompanying condition photos showed a totally different model stove.  Such was my attachment to the stove, however, that I decided to try harder.  I called the outlet's customer service and asked about that particular stove.  The very, very nice person who helped me (Paula) called the store that was selling it and found out that it was the correct model - someone had simply uploaded the wrong pictures.  But that person had also uploaded the wrong description.  It didn't have a scratch on the front.  In fact, it had never even been removed from its box. 

Seeing a ray of light shining amidst the stove-y darkness, I asked (very nicely) whether I possibly could have that stove instead of having my refund processed, as I thought that would actually be simpler for all parties.  Unfortunately, explained Paula, it doesn't work that way.  I would have to order the new stove from scratch - in fact, I would probably have to carry the price of both stoves on my credit card until the refund processed.  But, she would like to give me 10% off for my trouble.  I told her that was very nice, but this new stove was actually priced more than 10% higher than the one I bought - and although apparently it was in better condition, a scratch on the side didn't matter to me, since I was putting it between cabinets.  I explained as nicely as I could - with entirely un-feigned sorrow - that I would like the stove, but I wasn't comfortable with paying more for something with the same function.  She asked (being a reasonable person) whether that was the only stove I was considering.  And I told her it was the vintage style that I particularly wanted, and it was rather unusual.  She put me on hold for a moment, and got permission to give me this stove - at the price of the one I sent back. 

So it is to be delivered the Friday after this one.  We are, of course, getting further into the time when the area where I live becomes unbearably hot.  It would have been so nice to have the stove saga over by now - and to have a new stove up and running even as I type this, before the high has broken 80*, so I could get used to the oven before I start baking test cakes for my friend's wedding.  So I could maybe make some French onion soup and pop it under the broiler, before it gets truly out of soup season.  (I have not had a working broiler since we moved in the fall of 2011!)  It would have been great.  But I have to look at the big picture - because of this development, the title of this post is a misnomer, and in fact (God willing), there will be a stove.  I fervently hope. 

If this thing turns out to be badly engineered, and it doesn't work, or needs constant repair, or has lousy insulation, or (God forbid) I break the glass on it, I will curse my persistence, and look longingly at the pictures of my backup stove.  But for now, I am cautiously optimistic. 

And yes, I realize that I have now typed at least 1000 words more than any person on the planet could possibly be interested in reading about my (putative) stove.  Happy Monday. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

rebellion (AKA: failure)

This is supposed to be a post about sheet-rocking.  We may get there. 

So in the past week I've had a nagging feeling that something with my one-room challenge copycat project is not going quite right.  (It took me a while to pin it down, because it was almost drowned out by the naked terror generated by the objective evidence that the project is going to do me in.  These are distinct problems.  Bear with me.)  Finally, I put aside my "I really should check that out" thought and fired up the ol' internet browser to face the problem head-on.  And I saw what I was afraid of seeing. 

The one-room challenge only claims to be a six-week challenge.  It's all a lie, people.  It's actually a six-POST challenge, but as you'll see almost every blogger involved (the real bloggers involved, not the copycats) uses the words "six weeks" in the introductory text of their ORC posts.  Even though they know - indeed, by this point in the game they are most painfully aware - that it is a FIVE-WEEK CHALLENGE.  (I attribute this to some brand of Stockholm Syndrome, wherein they are so traumatized by the specter of finishing their work in just five weeks that they are compelled to placate Linda, the perceived taskmistress, or else be consumed by terror.)  I had no intention of embarking on a five-week challenge.  As evidence (to counter any implication of recent fabrication - see Federal Rule of Evidence 801(d)(1)(B)), I offer my post of April 2, 2014, wherein I stated that my plan was as follows:

Week 1 - demolition
Week 2 - put up studs; move wires into place for overhead light (including 2 junction boxes)
Week 3 - re-insulate ceiling; drywall, tape, and spackle
Week 4 - paint inside and outside; replace picture rail and baseboard outside
Week 5 - hang light, shelves, and closet poles
Week 6 - put clothes back in

That clearly implies six weeks of working, since I obviously had not started demolition when I wrote that post (the "week one" post) and was not claiming that I could complete any of those steps instantaneously. 

I will also note here that obviously each of the steps I listed was not equally difficult or time-consuming.  Hanging the shelves and closet poles will take a couple of hours (drilling holes doesn't take that long, but leveling everything and triple-checking measurements does), and putting all the clothes in from all over the house might take an hour.  Conversely, demolition was probably more than 10 hours of work.  Framing was about the same.  Whether deliberately or otherwise, the theory underlying my plan was, of course, to front-load the work with hard labor and make things easier as I went along.  (And of course a principal reason for this is that heavy construction is immensely more difficult than painting and decorating.  I get to say that because I've done both; if you haven't and you're insulted, try ripping down some lathe-and-plaster walls and get back to me.) 

I stand by my plan, at any rate - of course you put the hard labor at the beginning, meanwhile collecting supplies for the finishing touches, and if you get behind on the big jobs, you cram it all in at the end in a week that was slated to be less demanding.  I'm not saying I thought it through that carefully, but I do think it makes sense now that I am thinking it through. 

The drawback of that (otherwise brilliant) plan is that when someone bumps your deadline up a week, you're not going to be a week behind.  You're going to be three weeks behind.  (For example, if we pretend that the sixth post comes at the end of the sixth week [even though it is actually the fifth week], then I'll be done with about half of my fourth week work by the end of the sixth week.  Pathetic, of course.  But I still think I'll be really and truly done by the end of the really and truly sixth week.  Though I might not survive the process.) 

All this is to say that I am now in open rebellion, and am hereby declaring my intention to do this project in six weeks just like I said I would at the beginning.  Which is not much of a rebellion, really (unless you count the part about me not reading the fine print as malfeasance.  Yes, I KNOW).  In entire fairness - I know I'm giving Linda and the ORC concept a rough time here, but I'm aware she did a version with six real weeks at one point and the readers got confused.  I think calling the first post "week 0" or "planning week" could sort that out, and might also calm the bloggers somewhat, but I do not actually think she is plotting against me personally, seeing as how she has no idea who I am.  Though she kindly commented on my first ORC copycat post. 

And yes, I do appreciate the irony of complaining about the terms of a voluntary contest that I haven't even technically entered

Though I also wish to note in my sort-of defense that on Sunday I actually dislocated my own jaw trying to set a screw in the last stud in the ceiling, so I am kind of putting it on the line here, in a totally first-world-problems kind of way.  I'm not kidding about the jaw, by the way.  My head was not physically involved in the process, of course (though eventually I'm going to knock myself out with a timber), but I had unconsciously set my jaw as part of an effort to push upward as hard as I possibly could to get the infernal 4" screw all the way in.  The drill just wouldn't turn it any further, but my effort was abruptly halted when I felt an unpleasant sensation in my face and realized that my lower jaw was paralyzed and the left side of it just was not where it typically is.  Fortunately I was able to slide the joint back into place, but then I realized I couldn't open my mouth more than about an inch.  At this point my principal concern was that I would have to go to the hospital, which I thought would be a truly unwarranted interruption of my afternoon.  I decided to begin addressing the situation by washing my hands and feet, which were very dusty, and realized in front of the bathroom mirror that I could open my mouth all the way - but only by sliding my jaw into an odd position first (i.e., I couldn't open it all the way from closed in a smooth motion as I usually do).  It didn't require dislocating it again, and actually it's the exact same way my thumbs work (I'm double-jointed), but that's not how it had previously worked and I found the whole matter concerning.  I was also very tired and had been promising my DH I would take a nap (as soon as I set just one more screw).  I hypothesized that I couldn't open my jaw smoothly because a ligament got stretched when I dislocated it, and said ligament was now swollen and in the way.  So I went to bed with an ice pack in a kitchen towel on my face.  I woke up two and a half hours later with my jaw faintly sore but opening properly, replaced the 4" screw with a 2.5" screw, and called it good.  So then all the ceiling studs were in place:

Oh, I actually did accomplish something this week.  Some of the wiring!  (It was supposed to be 100% done last week.  It's still not done.  Never mind.)  I had to cut out the hole in the luaun panel first, so I could use it to measure just the right spot for the light switch:

I decided to get a little creative with the wiring ("creative with wiring" is generally not recommended).  I did not cut the white (neutral) or bare (grounding) wires, since I'd just have had to re-connect them.  I only cut and stripped the black (hot) wire, so I could attach it to the switch:

Then I put the whole thing together - and, several days later, even got all the conduit to lie flat the way I wanted it:

I had also cut a hole in the back/side of the conduit:

That was to allow the wire to come out over the baseboard:

Then I thought my brad nails had not come from Amazon yet (I love reading the real ORC participants' posts: "My sconces weren't loaded on the most recent boat from Italy, so they're not going to arrive by the end of the challenge and now I have to source replacements."  Then there's me: "My 18-guage nails haven't arrived from Amazon and Home Depot doesn't sell the Stanley brand that fit in my brad nailer, and I have to hang the luaun next or I can't get an accurate measurement of the drywall for the ceiling.  I guess I'll have to patch the floor tonight instead").  So, you know the hole in the floor:

Did you notice that the boards on one side didn't line up with the ones on the other?  I didn't until I got right next to them:

Which means it is not humanly possible for the patching boards to match up to the originals.  Which is great, because I didn't even manage to cut the pieces particularly straight.  And I thought the circular saw couldn't cut curved lines!  When I finally gave up on the sheet-rocking (spoiler!), I decided that a totally reasonable focus for my remaining time and energy was that little floor patch.  It has now been sanded (to no discernible effect - the original flooring on one side is higher than on the other side anyway, and uneven, so I was never going to get it smooth without some industrial-grade wood removal), stained (with what I thought was an orange ink cartridge for my calligraphy pen, but in retrospect I think was yellow.  Not that it matters - it barely changed the color at all), and varnished (two coats):

The board on one side is just lying there, to offer a comparison with the original color of the new wood.  (The darker spot is just a light reflection - the varnish was wet in that picture.)  It is getting more orange, thanks entirely to the varnish.  I might just put on eight coats and see whether I can get it to match closer.  If anything in the closet deserves disproportionate attention, it obviously is the floor patch. 

It turned out that the box from Amazon had been delivered but was stuck behind the front door.  So the next day, it was on to luaun! 

I put approximately 50 brad nails in that panel.  (And managed to get the side of my hand into the photo.  It's hard to get a good angle on that wall - stuffing my hand into the frame helps.)  It had better not come off.  Remember before? 

Oh my goodness.  So much better.  I never measure anything exactly right, and it really fit perfectly - even the light switch hole that I was sure would not fit:

Obviously, that's pretty ugly.  It's because usually the rough hole is around the junction box for a switch, and is covered up by the switchplate.  I'm using an in-line junction box, which is wider, so that's not possible.  But I'm planning to cover the gap with trim so it looks magnificent.  Stay tuned for that.  Oh, I also cut a notch in the luaun to accommodate the wire coming out over the baseboard.  That worked well, too:

Anyway, I figured I would need my DH's help to hold the ceiling drywall while I set the screws (and that piece of drywall really has to go in first).  So I tried to do everything that wasn't dependent on the ceiling piece, in no particular order.  I (mostly) finished patching the floor.  I swept.  I measured the ceiling drywall.  It wasn't an even rectangle - one side angles a bit - and the first time, I got the angle in the wrong direction.  So I re-marked it, snapped it to length and width, measured and marked the hole for the light fixture box, and cut it out:

In the process of double-checking my measurements (the ones on the side that was at an angle), I forgot my careful mental note to add the 3" for the tape measure box.  I made the entire piece 3" short, which I realized last night after ten minutes of work (mostly my husband's) wrestling it up to the ceiling.  I also discovered that it was too wide (slightly), though it's hard to say by how much.  I would have energetically shaved the sides down and put it back up, but the realization that even if I did so it would be 3" too short and thus have no anchor at one end (it would just miss the stud) had me so demoralized I just gave up on drywall for the night.  (This is after having an unexpected evening guest and losing 2 hours of work time, by the way.  I love guests.  But I would love them so much more after this project were finished and I removed the sawdust and cleaned the house - oh, and got some sleep.)  By the time I went to bed I had figured out a way to get the too-short drywall properly attached (and I've already shaved the sides - we'll see whether it's enough).  And of course I'll need to ever-so-carefully break a 3" patch piece, and tape the seam perfectly.  Nothing like lots of precise work that I could have avoided altogether.  So I'm hoping that will happen tonight.  But, the official verdict: this past week was drywall-taping-mudding, and I have done zero drywall, zero taping, and zero mudding.  ZERO.  I don't know how much of a difference it makes that I have now done 90% of the things that were nowhere on the list and just had to get done some time. 

Such as - installing the trim around the door - you know, the stuff I'm using to cover the damage to the plaster back there:

Right.  So I had to cut off the end of one of the shelf supports to make room for the trim.  You can see it in this picture - the blue horizontal board on the back wall:

First I sawed through it, then I started tapping it out at the edges.  I was careful not to use the plaster itself for leverage to pry it out.  But the plaster was on a suicide mission.  It would not let me clear the way for trim that would protect it unless it got a chance to destroy itself first:

More patching, I guess.  Add it to the list.  I did get most of the trim on:

I'm pretty proud of my cutting around the existing baseboard: 

Not because normal people usually have a problem with that, but because I usually manage to screw it up. 

Tragically, however, that is all the progress I have.  But by next week, I certainly hope to have the drywall, taping, and spackling done.  Plus lots of the little projects (mostly patching) that didn't deserve a whole point on the list.  And I hope to have the painting at least started, along with the new trim in the green bedroom. 

My progress isn't all that impressive, and my verbosity is really over the top.  (Especially the whining, I realize.)  But I like to think I bring one signal virtue to this project: I am not "saving" anything to show you in my Big Reveal Post.  If I worked on it in the past week, you're going to see it.  Of course, I haven't done anything to date that's worth showing off with great fanfare (too bad I didn't take a picture of my messed-up jaw, right?), but still.  I wouldn't hold out on you like that. 

I am sharing all this pathetic-ness at Linda's round-up

Thursday, April 17, 2014


OK, mostly framed.  So last week, we left off here:

Where I had smashed things.  So, it was time for framing.  I started out by framing the larger of the new walls:

Just getting the top, bottom, middle, and right studs in took me the first evening; the middle three had to go in the next night.  Framing is hard work!  The difficult part is that you generally need two hands to attach stuff with any kind of power tool, but also 1-2 hands to hold the weight of the studs (which are moderately heavy, and especially hard to control if you have them by just one end).  I found my head worked as a good substitute brace.  You may also notice something of a flaw in my top-left corner there.  Here's a close-up:

So I realized that, despite being the same length (after correcting for the depth of the baseboard - I actually did plan this process carefully), the top beam stood out further to the left (in absolute terms) than the bottom one.  I simply had no way to measure this until I could get the vertical beam between them and check it for level, so cutting the top one to the correct length before attaching it to the ceiling would have required time travel.  Instead, I figured I would just set the vertical piece to correct level, and cut off the excess.  Maybe you could see this one coming: I over-corrected, and the vertical beam leans in slightly. 

I actually used a level constantly during this process, but most of the studs are slightly off level somewhere or other.  (A few are actually un-level as a result of my using a level, in that my eyeballed measurement was more accurate.  I am at a loss to explain how this is possible, other than a brief anomaly in the earth's gravity.  Actually, if such an anomaly occurred, I would expect it to coincide with my framing project.)  I consoled myself repeatedly with the notion that these walls are not really structural.  As long as they stay up and hold up the drywall, we're good. 

Oh, on the subject of errors.  There is a right way and a wrong way to frame walls.  If the TV is to be believed (maybe), the right way is to build the whole frame (with zero measuring errors!) on the ground, so you can use a framing nailer to attach the top stud and the bottom stud to the vertical pieces, all the way across.  Then you swing the whole thing up, pound it into place (because your perfect measurements will have made it super-snug in every dimension), and nail or screw it to the floor and ceiling.  There are probably several wrong ways, but here is the one I used.  First I screwed the bottom piece into the floor:

That black dot in the middle is a 3" screw.  (I had a whole box of 2" screws, and a handful of 3" ones, left over from pulling them all out of the original porch floor when I demolished it.  I'm glad I kept them - I've been using them ever since.) 

I pondered several ways to proceed from there, but I ultimately decided that I had to attach the top piece to the ceiling next, and then attach the left and right pieces to that (which would more permanently hold its weight).  I had forgotten about the importance of making all the pieces extra-snug, so I was cutting them slightly loose so they would fit without trouble.  (OK, partly that was just an accident.  But I wasn't trying to cut them tight yet.)  This didn't seem difficult.  I had some enormous nails left over from the demolition phase (when the closet was built they were not using screws yet).  I figured pounding them over my head would be mildly strenuous, but no big deal. 

I was wrong.  The nails simply would not go in.  I even took the beam down and sunk the nails through it until they broke the other side, so I'd only have to pound into the ceiling from there.  They simply wouldn't go.  The hammering had a rubbery bounce-back quality that I am at a loss to explain, but which I remember from putting in the baseboard and waiscoting in the kitchen.  The upshot there was that I destroyed a ton of plaster and never got the nails really secure.  I could see that I was already destroying plaster in the ceiling, and decided to cut my losses.  And I didn't want to use screws because I was running out of the long ones, and I had no idea how I could hold all the items over my head at once.  But I was not letting the ceiling win without throwing at it the maximum violence I could muster. 

Enter pneumatic nailer.  And more ceiling problems.  The compressor is hideously loud, and I had been hoping to avoid using it.  But when you need to conquer rebellious materials, nothing else will do.  So the top stud went in, and then the side ones, and then the next night, the middle ones.  Since I didn't lay the whole thing out on the floor and nail through the bottom piece, I had to get creative with attaching the vertical parts.  I used screws at an angle:
I'm not sure you can make that out in the picture, but about 3/4" from the bottom of the vertical post, there's a dark gray screw-head set in at an angle.  After the vertical posts were in, it was time for the little facing wall:
Here I contemplate my next move.  I screwed both bottom pieces right in on top of the tape, by the way:
I couldn't think of a better way to do it.  Actually, by the time I got to this piece, I was really running low on 3" screws, so I used some of the giant nails left over from demolition.  I had been worried that the bottom stud on the longer wall could be pulled out by the weight of the rest of the framing when it went on, but I was going to be attaching the vertical studs on the shorter wall to the other wall, and I figured the right angle would stabilize them all.  So I wasn't worried about just nailing this piece in.  And then it was time to fix my little error from earlier:
Thank you, again, reciprocating saw.  Then the rest of the framing for the side wall could go in:
At that point I was able to visualize an issue I hadn't previously considered.  (I've spent hours pondering the next stage of the project, visualizing exactly what I will do, step-by-step.  And even though I definitely miss things, I actually do think of a lot of stuff in advance so I can plan around it.  I continue to maintain that obsession is productive.)  One of the principal functions of studs is to screw drywall into.  On the outside of the longer wall, the drywall can be screwed into each stud.  But once I put in the smaller wall, the far-left stud on the longer wall became unreachable from inside:
You may have to turn it around in your mind for a minute to see it.  I did.  I have actually seen what real carpenters do to avoid this problem.  They set the studs like this:

That would be way more intelligent.  I did not do that.  (Shocking.)  Since I had been planning to attach two shelf brackets to that stud, as well as the drywall, I decided to use blocking instead.  The shelf brackets (not yet purchased) look like this:

They have holes for two screws.  Since I don't have them yet and didn't want to wait, I eyeballed the screw hole placement based on the item's overall dimensions, and set the blocking that distance apart (two pieces of blocking per shelf bracket, since they have two screw holes).  The blocking is 3.5" thick, so I have some wiggle room, but I hope I guessed right.  Et voila:

The uppper closet pole in that half of the closet will be all the way up at the ceiling - no shelf.  That's going to be my side of the closet (I figured that if my DH's side is closer to the door, he will be more likely to use the closet), and I already have the shelves set inside the wall, plus I have dresses to hang, which are longer.  My DH's side will have the upper closet pole about 14" down from the ceiling so he can have a shelf above both the upper and the lower closet poles.  The lower closet pole will be at the same height all the way across, by the way.  (Yes, I have thought about this a lot.) 
Next, it was time for the ceiling beams (to hang the drywall ceiling on - the existing framing above isn't in the right places to support it):
So that's three pieces.  There should be five pieces, one for each stud in the new wall.  But I ran out of 4" screws (and 3" screws - I had exactly enough for the blocking).  At least I cut the extra pieces, so all I have to do is attach them, after I come back with some screws:
They are supposed to be different lengths; one abuts a piece of framing at the end and one doesn't.  (The latter will be attached to the framing sideways.)  Oh, and the middle of the three ceiling beams had something attached to it before I put it up:
That's a ceiling junction box.  The easiest item to use would have been this type:
Because it's made to nail into the stud next to it, which is what I need to do.  However, it was more than 2" deep.  The stud is 1.5" deep, and the drywall will be .5" deep.  So that's not going to work.  The metal box I used is 1.5" deep, which I can work with (I just need to substitute the screws that attach the box to the fixture's hanging strap for longer ones, but I've already found some in my stash that will work.  I took apart the box and the light and fitted them together before I attached the box, just to make sure the assembly would work).  Also before I attached the box, I traced it:
I'm going to need that tracing to cut out the right size hole in the drywall that goes on the closet ceiling.  Oh, I also note that there were no ceiling (i.e., round) boxes in the store less than 2" deep that were meant to attach to a stud next to them.  But I realized that the metal box had screw holes for a side bracket that I didn't need, so I could use the holes to screw it into the stud instead.  I also remembered to hook the wire into the box before I put up the next ceiling beam:
That way I could loop the wire over the next ceiling beam where it needs to go, and be sure that I had enough at the end to wire the light. 
So, I was supposed to get all the framing done this week, and I have two pieces that still need to be attached.  I was also supposed to do the wiring, and this is all the "wiring" I've done:
Actually, I think running wire does count.  But I still need to put conduit around it, and attach it to the light, the light switch, and the power source.  So all that will now have to happen next week.  Which is "sheet rock/taping/mudding" week, which is plenty of work in itself.  Oh, and also, next week would be a good time to add some wide molding around that doorway - as you can see in the picture above, the plaster around it is starting to crumble, and covering it with wood is the simplest way I know to fix it.  (I don't want to rip it off and redo it, and I'd want the door framed anyway, so there you are.)  And also, while we're on the subject, the wiring is running down a ditch in the wall, which will need to be covered.  Plus there's the wallpaper up there.  This wallpaper:
It's old - I don't know whether it's original.  It's really cool, but I can't save it, both because the area I have is so small, and because the plaster behind the paper is really crumbling.  I have saved a scrap of the paper to frame, but my plan for that whole wall is that after I get the wiring in, I'm going to cover that entire (small) wall of the closet with a piece of 3/16" thick luaun (plywood), which I already have left over.  That will cover the wallpaper portion, the ditch, and the (perfectly sound) green wall on the other side.  Since it's not very thick, it shouldn't be too obtrusive, and will even leave the baseboard showing at the bottom.  But, I will have to cut it carefully around the light switch, which will be a pain.  Oh, and I have to patch the flooring, too!  And that giant hole in the plaster...
Next week should be fun.  Pray for me. 
Sharing in Linda's round-up of ORC copycats here

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I might have bought a stove


It looks like this:

The amount of time that has passed since my stove navel-gazing started would be the first clue that I have totally succumbed to analysis paralysis.  It's bad.  After endless agonizing, I determined that this is my favorite stove (that would in any way be feasible for my current kitchen):

It's a little under $6000.  Less without the window in the door, but hardly sufficiently less to be affordable.  Also, I'm stretching the "in any way feasible" concept here, because it's 36" wide (they don't come in 30"), so I would have to reconfigure or maybe eliminate a cabinet, and also, they don't come in 100% natural gas, only dual-fuel and electric, so I would have to have an electrician install a high-voltage outlet for the power draw for the electric oven.  And I stalked eBay and craigslist for over a month to see whether a discounted one would show up in my area.  No such luck.  Those of you in California may have more luck; that seems to be where discounted Agas come from. 

I also determined that this is my second-favorite stove:

Compared to the Aga, it's actually prudent: it's just 30" wide and all-gas.  This one costs about $6500, but you can save $300 by going with the stainless steel trim package instead of the brass.  But, hey, what's $300? 

Oh, and I have a third-favorite stove:

We've discussed this.  It costs $4300.  The Ilve and the Big Chill were both included in my frantic search for any marked-down versions anywhere I could get at them.  Nada.  Then I started pondering other things.  I had the NXR (30" model at Costco) in my back pocket as the default for a while.  There's nothing vintage about it:

But I went through my many kitchen photos on houzz, and I determined that in the vintage-style kitchens I loved, pro-style ranges (looking a lot like this one, although probably most of them were Wolf or something) were actually the most common stove option.  Followed closely by super-high-end ranges like the Aga I love, followed by real vintage pieces (yes, preferable, but I've already gotten burned there once.  I need time).  So I figured it would suit the largest span of tastes.  Although who knows for how long?  By the way, it's $2000.  (I never saw it for less.) 

As you know, I considered the GE Artistry line.  I liked the styling:

But I got a chance to see one in person at the big orange store, and learned that the broiler is in the bottom drawer, and it's tiny - just fits the included broiler pan.  That means (a) I cannot broil a whole sheet pan full of - well, the many things I'd like to broil; and (b) that drawer cannot be used for storage, even though it is not a second oven.  So, that was out on functionality.  Though I did like the price.  What I particularly complained about was that this is the only retro-styled stove from a "normal" maker.  And then I realized I had been seeing this stove as I perused the Sears Outlet site, but discarding it because their other Maytag products had such awful reviews:

But its reviews actually weren't too bad.  And it occurred to me that it does have retro styling - from the shape of the oven window to the layout of the control panel to the style of the burner grates.  It's not an accident.  It's self-consciously retro.  But by this time, I had succumbed to the analysis paralysis hardcore.  I even asked a friend whether it looked retro to her, or I was just seeing things.  (She was kind.  She said it did.) 

Other things I liked about it that I had seen on some other stoves, but was not going to consider deal-breakers:
  • a high-BTU burner (this one's is 16,000 BTUs, and some "normal" brands have as high as 18,000, including some with two high-BTU burners; BlueStars, which are pricey, have 22,000-BTU burners.  So it's not tops in that regard, but not bad either)
  • a self-cleaning feature - with more and less clean settings (self-cleaning is standard in "normal" ranges, but hard to find in high-end ones.  Actually the variable clean settings are not standard but unusual, and that is my most-preferred self-clean option, so that's good)
  • "slide-in" style, instead of a tall back.  This isn't typical of real vintage ranges, so while I like the look, I have not considered it as a criterion.  This one just happens to have it
  • continuous burner grates (this is one of the things I struggled with most about vintage-style ranges.  Real vintage ranges have very small burner grates, which I find less practical.  Some retro-style ranges, including the Artistry and Elmira's Northstar, copy this feature.  One thing I like about the Big Chill is that it has giant burner grates).  In fact, what makes this particular stove special is that it has retro-style burner grates - curvy and shiny and spider-y, rather than chunky and square - and yet they go all the way across the stovetop.  I literally have not seen any other range, at any price, with this characteristic. 
  • convection oven.  If I can't have a double oven (and I finally gave up on that, since I couldn't have that and also something that looked acceptable), I figure convection is the next-best choice, because it heats faster and bakes faster - which will at least shave a little off the time my oven is on in the summertime. 
  • a comparatively high BTU on the main oven's burner.  I assume that this likewise means faster heating time, and better baking.  This is probably the element that I will lean on the most heavily, and it's not something they really even advertise to distinguish stoves!  But at 18,000, this one is on the higher side for "normal" ranges
  • a pan storage drawer.  Of course this is standard on "normal" ranges, so not that exciting, but the Aga, the Ilve, the Artistry, and the NXR actually don't have it, and I use one now, so it will be good to continue to have that space for my cookie sheets.  I hope it's as big as my current one! 
  • three oven racks, including a funky divided one (more cookies are better!)
There are also things it doesn't have that it would be nice to have.  Specifically:
  • I guess an even-higher-BTU burner would be nice - or more than one of them. 
  • a few that I looked at (including the NXR) had dual simmer ring burners, which my 1952 Wedgwood had and I really like.  Ah, well. 
  • a fifth burner.  That's becoming more typical of middle-of-the-road modern ranges, and I think I would like it a lot for making brunch.  On the other hand, I understand you can't use all five burners at once (unless you're using tiny pots), so it may not matter that much in practice.  I have a good-sized griddle that works with a regular-sized burner. 
  • double ovens, of course
  • a pretty color.  Given its design, I don't think it would be that hard to paint (or maybe even line with copper) if I got a mind to, so I am hopeful it could survive the passing of the stainless steel trend more or less intact. 
And the final thing I like about it - perhaps most important - is that I think it would be acceptable to the stainless-steel-loving crowd, and even stand out a bit from the run-of-the-mill residential range that's simply made in stainless steel instead of black or white (query: why do I want my DIY kitchen to look high-end?), BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY it has a retro look that I think isn't beholden to 2014, and will (I fervently hope) coordinate well aesthetically with my kitchen. 

It better, because it's being delivered in nine days.  I am hyperventilating a little. 

Part of me wants to be flooded with relief that this chapter is finally over (please God nothing goes wrong).  And part of me is horrified that - now that I have made a decision - I may have made the wrong one, and my options are now foreclosed.  Even with the checkout window open, I was scouring eBay to see whether any of my high-end beauties had suddenly appeared on the market in the last 24 hours. 

And then, as I was sourcing images for this post, I found a new front page on Big Chill's site.  Telling me that there is now a pro-style Big Chill range.  While pro-style is definitely my second place design choice after retro (and strictly speaking, what I actually bought is neither of the above - so sue me), it's something I've considered as a strong contender.  I was particularly enamored of this sorta pro style option:

As others who squint at stove pictures obsessively will immediately note, that's a 36" range, but it does come in 30".  Pretty, yes?  Anyway, they also make them without all the fancy chrome, and I liked those too (and they cost a thousand or two less - still crazy expensive, of course).  But I only really like the ones in colors.  And now Big Chill makes that style with colors.  Including this color:

That's "slate."  As in, dark gray-blue.  Like my cabinets.  And it's $2399 - less than half of any similar-looking product by a competitor.  (And $2000 less than their retro-style option.)  It has 18,000-BTU burners, an oven burner with 30,000 BTUs, and Big Chill has an impressive reputation for quality construction.  Delivered and installed, the stove would be less than our tax return, which was my absolute maximum for this purchase.  What I actually bought was over $1000 less...which I am telling myself is important...and I think it is important.'s so pretty.  I guess that's the only really important difference; well, that and the reputation for quality, which actually is important.  Oh, and the price. 

I hope someone else buys one and really enjoys it.  And if Sears Outlet torpedoes my order somehow, I know what I'm getting instead.  (Probably.  That's still a lot of money.)