Saturday, April 25, 2015

In which the push is on!

We have been on the go since I returned from New York with more kitchen parts.  The push is on to finish everything by the end of June.  If the gods are willing than so am I!  There is so much to share, but some of my photos are on another device which I keep leaving at the building, so at some point you will see the new stairs and all the IKEA cabinets put together.  
For now we have to go back several weeks to show you the progress, oh readers not on facebook:

The tiles in the master bathroom came out beautifully.

 The shower is four feet square

 The floor of the master bathroom.  With the Deco double vanity that now hangs on the wall, this bathroom is killer!

The bathroom provides a nice entrance to the the master bedroom and also provides a great privacy barrier between the master bedroom and the rest of the apartment.  

Speaking of vanities, our downstairs slab and copper vanity is almost ready!  

While the tiling has been fun and the bathrooms look gorgeous.  Greg and I made a decision to scrap the tile projects for the mud room and the kitchen floor in favor of hardwood floors in those areas.  When we added up what the tile, grout, mortar, Hardie backer board, and caulk cost us as well as the time (we estimated that it would probably take at least 4-5 days per area to prep and execute more tiling.  We made this decision lightly and worried about it all the way home with 350 square feet of flooring in the back of the truck.  But we love the floor...pre-finished ash in a gray wash with lots of texture.  

I think the tiles worked out to 2.29 a square foot, which is a great deal.  Add the mortar and the rest, and we got ourselves up to almost $4.00 a square foot for the floor, without our time.  The floor, which is a premium grade flooring, was on a manager's special from Lumber Liquidators for $2.49 a square foot.  Going by the time it took us to put down the hardwood floor on the first level, it should take us a day to install each floor, saving us probably four days of work on each.  So, we are essentially trading the kitchen floor tile and materials in for enough materials to do both floors plus saving all that time.  BOOYAH!!!

It took us a few weeks of experimentation to figure out trim colors for the living area downstairs.  Big surprise that we picked a gray color!  We originally wanted to use old weathered boards for the trim, but we couldn't fine enough of what we needed, so we decided to make our own!  I found a "slate colored" Minwax stain that I cut 1:1 with water and ragged onto the boards.  After letting them dry for a while, a single coat of poly was applied to help with upkeep.  The boards below were used as the stair risers.  

And finally, the winter took a toll on the property, so Greg and I spent a couple of days raking and cleaning the lot, re-raking the pea stone, etc.  I don't know where all the pea-stone went, but I am sure a lot of it has been tracked into various spaces in the building...perhaps not the best treatment for the parking lot, but so far, better looking than hot top.  

For those of you who live out of state, here is a photo of the back lot around 11:30 in the morning on a Monday .  Meanwhile in Belfast, the pizza kitchen located in the lower level, opens at 11am every day and the place is packed out by 11:30

 I finally had occasion to leave all the lights on last night on my way to dinner so that I could see the ole' girl all happily lit up...first time in years, I think!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

In which I get to visit Red Hook....Brooklyn

I am leaving on the road tomorrow, round about 6am.  I am headed to New York for some meetings, but I am more excited, not to run around the city seeing shows and exhibitions on my down time, but rather traveling over the bridge to Red Hook, Brooklyn, to the Ikea there.  Out of all the stuff we need, Red Hook has the most.  I am still going to be 5 drawer fronts short of a full deck, but its better than 8 drawer fronts, some side panels, and the drawer pulls!  Greg has also sent me off to buy the vanity for the master bath....of course, they are out of that style in Brooklyn, but they do have it in New Haven, so I am golden!  Of course New Haven doesn't have any of the other stuff I I am spending my Friday night getting my car out of hock and driving over the bridge.  I figure if I left at 7pm, I would have a good chance of getting to Red Hook by 8pm and have an hour to get my shopping cart together before the doors close.  Perhaps I'll wait and have dinner there....Swedish Meatballs, mmmmmmmm.

Have spent the last several days cleaning.  It finally reached into the low 60s here yesterday and Greg and I decided to spend that time outdoors, repairing the back lot at the Ocean House from the winter of snow plowing....peastone was probably not the best choice for Maine, but it didn't take all that long to rake the driveway and surrounding areas.  My question is where did half the pea stone go??

We've had our first confirmed rental of the season.  A nice couple who are building a house here have asked to be the first tenants of the Ocean House starting the 30th of June..We have 10 weeks from yesterday and it is time to kick it into high gear.  I finally finished grouting the last bathroom, so next is the stairs and the kitchen.  We'll make it, or at least we'll get far enough that our guests are comfortable.  But, as regular readers of my blogs know, we love deadlines.  Everyone shakes their heads and says "they'll never get it done in time." and then we do.  Simple as that.

We also had a blog reader stop in yesterday to introduce himself.  A nice young man from California who is thinking of moving here to Belfast.  Welcome Tim and Frank and thanks for stopping by the Ocean House to introduce yourselves. Good Luck with your endeavors!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

In which I ponder our IKEA experience

About three weeks ago, Greg and I locked up the building, threw the dog in the back of the station wagon and headed down to Connecticut via Boston and Providence, RI.  One of our tasks was to go to Ikea and scope out their kitchens as an alternative to what we had planned to spend a lot of time creating.  We got there and were immediately put in front of a computer kitchen planner.  The planning tables are surrounded by examples of cabinets, counter tops, accessories, etc. and after a little fumbling around, we laid out our room dimensions and started plugging away.  The planner allows one to put in window and door openings and walls, etc.    Below is our kitchen space.

Now keep in mind, we are trying to save money, but also have a kitchen for our rental until that reflects a certain high-end sensibility.  We actually had a good time with the process, but were overwhelmed after several hours of switching out colors, countertops, styles, etc.  We were told that once we saved the plan on our planner in their system, we could finish it at home and then order the kitchen we wanted.  We assumed that we could call up, order a kitchen and then come back down to Boston and pick the whole thing up...simple as pie, if we wanted to go that route.
As we were leaving the store, we heard the announcement that any kitchen planned and purchased by the end of April would be on sale.  If we spent $4500 we would get 20% off.  Not too bad, and that would pay for the upper cabinets that we thought we could do without in our previous plan.
We got home and didn't look at the planner because we were not really sure if Ikea was the way we wanted to go.  After a couple of weeks we jumped back on and rearranged some things and decided that this was the way to go.  One great thing about the planner is that you can save your changes and then see what the final cost will be.  It took me about four tries to make it from $4300.00 to $4500.00 so that we could be eligible for the discount.

The photo below does not show our kitchen...too bad, but it does show the cabinet style and color we chose.  

What I love is the hardware we got for the drawer fronts, 16" silver handles that match our Maytag appliance handles pretty well.  See them here in this photo.
I hopped on the phone to call and order our kitchen....which is not what happened at all, much to my surprise.  Ikea has what is called a "first come first served" policy, meaning that pretty much, the company wants you to come to their stores and order what you need.  The operator on the phone told me that he could ship me about 50% of what we needed for the kitchen, but "the warehouse" inventory was pretty much sold out of the type and style of kitchen we wanted.  He told me we had probably designed the "it" kitchen that everyone wanted, (see above) and that grey was the "it" color.  If he didn't stop saying that we had the "it" kitchen design, I was going to hang up!  He discouraged me from having my idea of an all drawer kitchen rather than doors on the lower cabinets and said that if I changed a few things (the color, the configuration, and the cabinet doors), I could have my kitchen in about a week....otherwise he was not sure when I would be able to take delivery.  He asked where my closest store was and then checked their inventory, telling me that my best bet to get the kitchen I wanted was to go to the Boston store again and order it from them because that particular store had more in stock than the distribution warehouse in NJ.  I told him I would have to reconsider and then I got off the phone, more confused than ever.  How were we ever going to get this done!!

We spent a few days in Florida for the Easter weekend and decided that after getting home Monday night, we would simply load the dog in the back of the pickup and head back to Boston the next morning, leaving at 6am.  By the time we got to the store, there were already about five people on the computers ahead of us.  It was probably best that we went back in the end because the planner is in animation, so if one hasn't seen the countertops in real life, one is going to be disappointed when they arrive!  We had chosen what I thought was a black stone counter top on the planner, but what was, in reality, pressboard with a photo laminate of stone on top.  YUCK!  
We chose a beechwood butcher block counter instead, which bumped our overall price up a bit, but we also chose not to add cornices and case trim to the upper and lower part of the wall cabinets.  Once we saw them in place again at the store, we realized we didn't need or want them.  We also decided against going with IKEA under cabinet lights as they turned out costing about $100 a cabinet and we can probably do the same thing for less money ourselves.  

Once we finished tweaking our design in the store, a kitchen planning employee came over to help and she was GREAT!  She spent time going over the design and tweaking a few more details here and there.  When it came time to find out what they had it stock for our kitchen, they found about 80% of it in the store.  661 lbs of pressboard kitchen in 111 flat boxes, which took almost 90 minutes to put together for us so that we could take it down to the truck to load.  

Our kitchen planning helper told us that a further 12 boxes of items would be shipped to us, including the four 8 x 2' sections of butcher block for the counters, but that another 11 items (including 6 of the drawer fronts, the corner cabinet, and a few other things were out of stock and we would have to find them ourselves by continuing the check back on the website over the next week or so to see what store had what items in stock! 
Oh, and then the system said that they couldn't deliver the 12 boxes to us because we were outside their range of delivery and did we know someone who lived closer, was over 18 and who would be home the whole day they scheduled to deliver the packages.  We ended up sending them to my sister in Yarmouth, ME and we will go down and wait for the packages to arrive so that she doesn't have to do so. 
Ok,  since I am headed to NY in few weeks, I have been checking the IKEAs in New Haven, CT, Elizabeth NJ, and Hicksville LI for the missing pieces.  (I found that the Long Island store has 8 of the 11 pieces we need in stock today...but their stock probability table (no, really) shows that they will not be in stock by next week!  The Ikea website lets one store their "shopping list" on the site for a year  (a year??) and I can periodically go into the list and choose a store location to see if that store has the merch available.   I have also taken to checking the Kansas never knows when one will be contacting one's favorite in-laws for a little shopping and shipping trip!  

Fingers crossed that the IKEA in Gnu Haven has the items I need in stock in the next 10 days as that store is right on my route to NY.  

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

In which we try to scrounge a kitchen.

The boys at the Ocean House took some time off this weekend and flew to Clearwater Florida for some Easter time on the beach in Sarasota.  We arrived home last night to snow swirling around.  After a frustrating last week of trying to order our kitchen cabinets and being told that not everything we want is in stock and it would be better 1. to order different color cabinets because gray is the "it" color right now, 2. that if we went to a store, (four hours away in Boston) we might be able to get more of the stuff we want and 3. we should order under cabinets with doors and not drawers to get the stuff faster....everything at IKEA is on a first come, first served basis.  The online e-commerce site has less choices for stuff than going to an actual store....meaning that it was almost impossible to order a kitchen online.  Guess where we are off to this morning???  Boston and back by dinner time!

Friday, April 3, 2015

In which we are back to normal and certainly not selling the Ocean House....yet!

I should offer some sort of comfort to my readers who wanted to hurl stuff at me yesterday.  I guess the prank sale of #2 Cross Street affected many.  My apologies to my tenants who were not in on the prank and probably spent most of April first on the phone looking for other places to set up shop!  To Mike Cunning for playing along!  That was great fun!

Now back to our regularly scheduled blog post!  We have finally finished tiling the bathrooms!  Just in time to head to Florida for the weekend to spend Easter with my mom.  Back to work on Tuesday though...two days in the sun will probably not be enough to recharge our batteries all the way, but it sure helps!

I spent most of yesterday consolidating our construction crap.  It is a good feeling when the project starts to come together so much that you want to rid rooms of construction debris and just get them finished.  I made the first floor bedroom the materials room and was able to organize and store or pitch almost every tool and bag of mortar and paint can in the place.  Much better now!  We are in furnishing mode as well, so I made one room into furniture storage for the apartment.  We have one chair so far!

Our goal is to finish the kitchen plan today and order the cabinets.  We already bought the appliances, tough looking Maytag black ones with handles that match the hardware on the drawer fronts.  We chose grey cabinets with black stone countertops.  Tiling on the kitchen will commence next week after we finish preparing the floor with Hardy backerboard and sound proofing material.  

I had assembled two steel shelving units in the kitchen for experimentation as kitchen cabinets....but we just don't have the energy to figure it out and build it, so for just a bit more $$, we decided to go for Ikea.  With their 20% off sale on kitchens, we certainly got a good deal.  

I was getting sick of the mess and the debris piles everywhere, so I took some time to clean, organize, and play house.  I have a rental website where I update the construction photos in hopes of attracting early renters! So far we have had two inquiries, but no takers.  But, if I can make the place look livable instead of look scary, we might get some adventurous travelers!

The walls are finished and look nice a crisp in their grey color

Greg finished tiling the floor in the master bath, but we were both too tired to take photos of the finished floor. After lunch, I abandoned cleaning to be the back butter buddy.  We got the floor finished in no time with me slathering on the mortar and Greg placing the tiles.  

This bathroom is going to be particularly gorgeous.  

We did have lunch downstairs at Meanwhile in Belfast.  The superfood salad was incredibly beautiful and tasty.  And the Visionary Pizza was spectacular!  

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

In which we tell the tale of the sale of the Ocean House

Some of you may have noticed the small signs out front of the Ocean House today.  We closed last night on the sale of the building to some people from Bermuda who had come to Belfast as few times in the last several years and watched the progress we made with regards to the building.  Several months ago, I had a call from my favorite real estate broker who said that someone was interested in investing in the Ocean House.  When I said that we didn't need investors, I was told that they interested party was seeking a sale price.  Back and forth we went.  To our surprise they met our price.  They love the building and everything about it. The couple came for a final walk through last Sunday, when Brambles was having its open house and Meanwhile was in full swing.  
They were thrilled and we signed on the dotted line yesterday, after approving our kitchen plans.  Greg and I must finish the apartment by the first of June or else start paying rent on the space ( a great incentive for us to finish!)  We made this easy, and the new owners simply purchased our company.  They don't want anything to change and they asked if Greg would stay on as property manager for now.  He agreed.  
This is bittersweet for me.  I was sitting, just the other night, at the bar at Meanwhile, musing to myself that just a year ago I had my pick axe and my pry bars out to lower the floor 24" or so and now the restaurant was packed with people at 4:50pm.  The story I didn't tell on facebook was about how amazed I was that Greg and I pulled it off again.  Thanks to my blog, the new owners knew exactly what went into the renovation of this amazing lady.  

With this deal in the works, Greg and I got our courage up to inquire about some other property in the area.  We had been out to dinner in Belfast with a friend when our immediate neighbor stopped by the table to say hi.  One thing led to another and Greg and I decided to try our luck and called his office the next day to inquire what he would be willing to take for his lot in town.  Greg and I had been talking about this for a while, first jokingly and then more seriously as time went on.  
It took almost a month of negotiating, but we finally came to an arrangement.  Greg and I thought we should get everything done before Spring hit full force.  We chose a closing day for the Ocean House of the last day of March and we chose today, the first of April, to close on Penobscot McCrumb, because a fool and his money are soon parted, so might as well sign on the dotted line today!!
There is quite a bit more land here than we had at the Ocean House.  Once we remove the building itself and the trailers go away (by the end of next month, promise!), we'll have some amazing real estate, which can be yours....if the price is right. 

So, that's the story of the Ocean House sale. At best, it is pure fiction, dreamed up last night at 3Tides with Mike Cunning at Worth Real Estate.  The Ocean House is still our baby, and is still wholly owned and worked on daily by the boys at UNME, LLC.  

With that, I wish you all a happy, healthy April Fools!