Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Don't try this at home...at least the first part

I'm the eldest of four girls and every time I or one of my sisters forgot to call home to let mom know that we'd be late, she would say to us, "I thought you were chopped up in a plastic bag at the side of the road!" (Yes, I know. My mother's not what you might call subtle.) A couple of weeks ago my mom's words came back to me full force. I found myself driving to the wrong side of the tracks to meet a man at a storage locker to look at some tiles. I found the guy on Craigslist. He said that he had left over stock and was trying to get rid of it so that he could make room for some new product. I pulled up to the parking lot and found it empty except for one navy mini van. You know, the kind with the sliding side doors that kidnappers use to drag people from the sidewalk into vehicles? To make matters worse, it was parked behind a gate that could only be opened and closed with an electronic code. Once inside the storage centre I would have no way of getting out on my own. Against my better judgement (sorry mom and everyone with common sense), the lure of cheap tile got the best of me and I left the safety of my vehicle to meet the mystery man.

Luckily Collin turned out to be like a caffeinated version of Brendon - super friendly, energetic and incredibly personable. He and a partner started up Cove Finishings - an online company selling high end glass tiles to designers and private homeowners. By avoiding having a storefront (hence the storage locker) they saved the costs of rent and instead could sell a great product for a very competitive price.  After a few visits to his 'display case' we settled on some beautiful mosaic tiles for our kitchen backsplash. 

Brendon and Roger are now pros at putting up tiles and were able to get them installed over Easter weekend. They are pretty spectacular and look really beautiful in the space. Take a look at some of pictures Brendon captured along the way. 

One tip they've discovered in their vast experience: kitchen spatulas are the perfect tool to get grout in small hard to access spaces.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spontaneous combustion

Did you know that you can burn down your house with nothing but linseed oil? I didn't till this weekend. Diligent as we were to use non-toxic products on our countertop we opted to combine linseed oil and beeswax to polish and seal our countertops. We followed the proper process, soaking a rag with linseed oil and rubbing it into the countertop. We then tossed the rags in the corner of our kitchen. The next day we walked into the kitchen and noticed a really strong smell of linseed oil. At first we just thought it was the countertop off gassing. But then Brendon noticed something strange. One of the rags had been perched on top of Styrofoam packaging and it had melted a hole in the material. Brendon snooped around further and opened up one of the rags. Low a behold it was almost entirely charred in the center.

So why did this happen? Apparently if I had called my grandparents I probably could have gotten the answer pretty quickly. Years ago linseed oil was really the only product available to keep wood surfaces polished and protected. It was commonly know that rags soaked with oil should always be stored outside in addition to being laid out flat. The reason? The drying process for the oil is one of oxidation. This is an exothermic reaction which basically means that by using oxygen it creates heat, which in some cases may result in spontaneous combustion. So a warning to all you guys: just because it's natural doesn't mean it's not dangerous. Always make sure you know how to dispose properly of the product you use!

Monday, April 18, 2011

2 months, 11 people and 1 beautiful countertop

  • Quinton and Harry from Greenworks helped us get the countertop across the border from Hoquiam.
  • Pete from Sip Distribution held it in his warehouse for a month while we got the kitchen cabinets done.
  • Gavin Scorer the exceptional cousin helped move the 400 pound slab from the warehouse to our home.
  • Roger, Erin, neighbours Andy and Ian, Brendon and Gavin carried the paperstone into the garage.

And most importantly - Brent and Chris took on the challenge of cutting, finishing and installing the our beautiful countertop. 

Even though it was possible to cut the paperstone with woodworking tools, it was not an easy feat. It took a lot of muscle and sweat, not to mention two full days of work. But the finished result speaks for itself. The product is beautiful and it was made all the more so because of the exceptional craftmanship of Brent and Chris. Thinking of paperstone for your next project? Call these guys for the job - 604-338-7570. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Good people, great kitchen

The saga of our kitchen cabinets started way back in January. I spent two whole days trying to design our kitchen using the IKEA planning tools. I cried. Twice. First when I thought that my full day of work had been deleted from the ethos and I would have to start from scratch. And secondly when I found out that IKEA didn't make a corner unit small enough to fit our space.

Feeling deflated I went to my back-up best friend - Home Depot. They wooed me and told me it was going to be okay showing me a corner unit that (although ugly) would fit in our small space. I began to warm-up to the idea even though the product wan't exactly what I was looking for. Then they told me the price. It was going to cost us over $10K to do our tiny little kitchen! I thought this was going to be the cheap option. I went home, threw myself on our bed and cried for a third time.

After a day or two wallowing in self pity, wondering if we had made the wrong choice by taking on the kitchen ourselves, I decided on a whim to contact the oracle - Craigslist. I typed in 'white kitchen cabinets' and low and behold I was introduced to Terry and Rob. These two own a cabinet company called Heritage West Interiors. They design, source and install kitchen cabinets (and a bunch of other things as well). We hit it off immediately and I felt really good about this company almost immediately.  They came to visit our space and quickly came up with a number of different ideas we hadn't thought of.

Meet Terry and Rob.

Now to back up a bit - our kitchen isn't an easy one. Between the sink, stove top, dish drawer, washer/dryer and fridge all crammed into a 10foot space, there isn't much space to work with. In fact, Home Depot could barely figure out how to get a small bit of countertop to work off of. I knew this was going to be hard but Terry and Rob were up for the challenge. Almost immediately they figured out a way to get a set of drawers into the bottom cabinets. Neither IKEA nor Home Depot could do that. They also showed us how we could build cabinets with drawers on the bottom, again giving us more room for storage. And lastly came up with an ingenious idea for the corner cabinet that had been causing us such heartache.

They also recommended a new product we hadn't heard of - Greenlam - an eco-friendly laminant that was leading the charge when it came to recycling, using bio-fuels and getting rid of nasty formaldehyde and chlorine.  This product also happened to be very affordable and suddenly we were able to get our kitchen done for almost half the price of Home Depot.  And custom designed at that!

With Terry and Rob's fabulous design we placed the order. A couple of weeks later it arrived and our installers Brent and Chris were ready to get it in. Perfectionists at heart, these two guys worked tirelessly to create a kitchen that we could have only dreamed of. They thought of every little detail from capping the top of the fridge cabinets so that from the loft above we would see a seemless white surface; to building out a beautiful box that would hold the washer/dryer in place and extend the length of the kitchen.
Brent working away.
And his son Chris.

There are still a couple tiny things to finish up like installing doors on the far left upper cabinets but even as is, this kitchen looks fabulous! Take a look yourselves. Terry, Rob, Brent and Chris - we couldn't have done it without you. And anyone looking to update or redo their kitchens - give these guys a call.

Stay tuned: In the next few days we'll be posting a video of the whole kitchen coming together...including the elusive Paperstone countertops.