All I have to say is go with your first instincts. I really wanted to do the backsplash in black ceramic 3″ x 6″ subway tile to match the absolute black granite countertops but white would have been a safer bet for resale. I came real close to chickening out and doing white, but am glad I took the chance and got to try something new in the kitchen. I’m really happy with how it came out and I got the look I was going for. I’m planning on switching out the plugs, switches and cover plates to black as well. For me, the white grout and the square profile on the granite slabs really makes it. Once I get the under cabinet lights in there going to be quite the neat reflection going on. I used the Domsjo Farmhouse apron sink from Ikea again, and as you regular blog followers know we’ve put them in all of our historic renovations. You cant beat the price at $299.
We shopped around this week for hardwood floor refinishers and ended up going with Geary Floors here in San Diego. They are charging $2.50/ s.f. for a pretty nice job. I found slightly less expensive prices but knew these guys do good work and its pretty important to me that we get a good job upstairs so I didn’t want to take any chances. You can see the 100-year-old Douglas Fir floors upstairs came out way better than I expected. I decided to not add any stain color and go “clear” with the refinishing job. The distressed look matches well with the house and adds a lot of character. This wood is the old 5″ wide long leaf style with standing grain. We are staining the stairs however to try and get them close to matching my hand scraped and distressed engineered wood floors downstairs. I’m officially now over budget, not bad considering the scope of work and the appliances are already paid for and standing by for delivery. Most of whats left now is outside which we plan on attacking this week. Stay tuned as we button her up and really add the missing small touches…
Another sweet milestone..On Saturday with the help of a friend we picked up and installed the granite and marble slab countertops in the kitchen and both baths. You can see in the pic I still need to install the backsplashes, but we got all the tops in and the bar top server on the kitchen pass-through. I went with Absolute Black for the kitchen to contrast the white cabinets. As a general design rule in rehabbing you always go dark, light, dark or the opposite in the kitchen meaning: dark floors, light cabinets then back to dark counters. The opposite would be light floors, dark wood cabinets then light colored counters. I think the black and white with grey walls looks real crisp and modern while still period sensitive, you can’t go wrong with this combo. Any future homeowner could switch out the wall colors and anything would still look good. Another flip tip to keep in mind is that you must have good lighting in the kitchen if you want to do black counters, but in this case we have under cabinet lights pre wired and with recessed lighting, abundant natural light and the pendants I’ll be hanging over the bar it won’t be an issue. Black counters can make a room look small as well but since I’ve opened everything up it works for me. I chose White Carrera Marble for the bathrooms, it looks a little more feminine and with the grey veining through it, ties in perfectly with our wall color. This is the first time I’ve used the white marble and I’m loving the way it looks. I cant wait to see it with the white sinks and chrome hardware.
I’ve received a lot of reader mail over the years asking about how I get my granite for so cheap. We started doing this method back in California, the granite industry has been revolutionized for people in the know. Yea, you can still pay $40/s.f. to the big dogs in town or mid $30’s to the big box stores for granite slab but this method gets er’ done for under $12.00 per square foot. These 8′ x 24″ slabs are pre-fabricated in China where labor is cheap and then shipped to the states. The material still comes from all around the world but it’s sent to China to get cut down, polished and bull nosed. For an 8 foot section I am paying $160.00. That’s $10/ square foot, then add a couple more bucks for materials and it still ends up pretty inexpensive.
Ask around for “pre fabricated” or “pre bullnosed” granite slabs. They always come from China. When we first moved to San Antonio you couldn’t get them here so we’d drive to Houston to pick then up. Here in San Antonio the company who carries them is called Builders Mark . They have about 30 colors in stock to pick from as well as bar tops, peninsulas, backsplashes and islands. You still have to put them in yourself, maybe I’ll do a “how to” video for the DIY’ers out there one day. They sell to the public but also give contractor discounts. Real stone slab counters boost the resale value of your rehab, along with stainless steel appliances, granite countertops are top of the wish list for homebuyers in today’s market.
Kent Moore Cabinets delivered our millwork package this week and boy do the cabinets look good. I put a lot of weight on what goes in my projects these days. These cabinets are solid wood construction, full custom sizing meaning there are no filler pieces and the doors are Shaker style with a full overlay (3 still missing in pic). The drawers are full extension with ball bearing glides and euro hinges for the doors. I chose their color Snow Drift so it comes very close to matching my Sherwin Williams Snowbound trim color. The cabinets are installed in the entire house so everything matches the kitchen including utility room cabinets, bath linen, bath vanities and even a head knocker cabinet above the toilet in the water closet. Like most house flippers I used to go to Lowe’s or Home Depot and pick out some random bath vanities but this is really the right way to do a remodel. Having all your millworks match and being able to special order bath vanities that are 35 inches high really puts your remodel in another class. These new style bath vanities are kitchen height so you don’t have to bend way over to brush your teeth. The 42″ upper kitchen cabinets also have crown molding as well, it really plays well under the existing crown. After the truck delivers, you get an install crew that handles everything in 1 day, then followed up by a service rep who adjusts all the doors and touches anything up. Additionally, you get a 2 year transferable warranty on all the cabinetry to give to the buyer so this is also a great feature for a rehab. The entire package on this house was $7000. I’m really happy with Kent Moore, I’ll be bummed when I cant use them when we get back to San Diego. If you are in Texas and want to step your game up, call Melvin at KMC and tell him Tom sent you.
If you’ve been following our blog for a while you’ll be getting Deja Vu right about now. As you know we are big fans of, and love the Ikea Farmhouse Sink called Domsjo. For the price at $299 you cant beat it, compare elsewhere for $1000. Some people call them apron sinks due to the big white front band that stays visible after install. Additionally, it really goes well with the Arts and Crafts style homes we’ve been remodeling and it’s so big that if you have small kids it can double as a bathtub. Here in the 7th largest city San Antonio, they don’t have an Ikea so we have to drive up to the hipper Austin to get them. Maybe if it was called El Ikea they would have one down here. Before making the trek, we always check availability online to see if they have stock. I was struck with a mild panic attack when my favorite Swedish item didn’t appear on their website. We called and found out that in fact there were 7 left so I was relieved to say the least. This sink will work with a standard 36″ base cabinet after a little simple modification. Here’s an instructional video on How To Install Ikea Farm House Domsjo Sink in standard non Ikea cabinets.
The “Neighbor’s House” is now painted inside minus some small touch ups. Additionally I got the cabinets in and countertops installed this week. I buy the pre-bullnosed granite slabs fabricated in China and with the help of a friend we put them in ourselves saving big money. It ends up costing me $12.00/s.f. for what everyone else charges $50/s.f. for. I intended to post a “how to install granite countertops” video for everyone but my memory card was full yesterday when we were installing so I had to settle for a few single images. Maybe next time I’ll get to film the install for everyone as it’s really not that hard to do. As you can see we also dropped in the farmhouse sink from Ikea. It’s easy to retrofit any 36” sink base cabinet to accept it, you just have to do some measuring and cutting. All the tile is done and the glass company came and measured for the frameless heavy glass door for the master shower. All that’s left now are some small projects before I can get the floors refinished after the holiday weekend. I’ll be going really dark again on the stain since the floors got such great reviews on our last project next door. The concrete guys are showing up weather permitting this week to start on the driveway. The house itself should be done soon but we still have the landscaping and light renovation of the rear guesthouse to do before the project is complete. Last week we bought another historic house for a big renovation, we close on it this Wednesday so at that time we’ll get over there and do a walk through video to show you what we have planned. Stay tuned and Happy Holidays!