Friday, October 28, 2016

One Room Challenge: A Kitchen Remodel (Week 4)

One Room Challenge

The day has come... time to get things installed! 

I woke up every day this week, praying hard that all goes well. It is all about coordination, patience and very big smiles. Remember to keep smiling and stay positive. It is my job to think on my feet and make impromptu decisions along with finding solutions to problems and surprises. 

It was a big week and we sure got a hell of a lot done. The pictures below will give you a sense of the progress made and flavor of the the ultimate design.  

Immense coordination was needed to install the stone this week. I was practically at the fabrication shop everyday to ensure the stone was being fabricated in the right manner. I was very particular about getting the right pieces in the right spot. On the day of the installation, I got a call from the fabricator, "Please have the countertop loose and removed" were the instructions. Well, when they arrived, it was loose but not removed from its place and for a good reason; we had been using it till the last minute. That did not work very well for the installers since they were overworked and overbooked. All they want to see is a bare kitchen, work their magic in 10 minutes and race to their next job. Really?! Run away in 10 minutes from the stone that I so lovingly picked out after much research and procrastination. We had to improvise at the spot and be quick about it. If the old stone was not removed quickly, we would loose out on our installation slot and that would've put us significantly behind our project schedule. Thankfully it all worked out.

The installation of the perimeter was a bit challenging but the backsplash and the island went very smooth. The backsplash was the one I was the one area I was most nervous about. It required absolute precision, patients and perseverance to go in as such a large single unit. I wanted it to go in one piece despite the fabricators hesitation and concerns that the pre-installed cabinets might hinder the installation. 

The existing granite from the island has been repurposed and converted into a outdoor table on the patio.


Appliance deliveries, the installation teams, the electrician and the plumber need to be present during the installation of all appliances. 

Despite asking the installer to come to the project site and take the measurements in advance, we had a few problems during the final installation. A few lessons learned along the way -- the appliance delivery teams are not responsible for protecting the floors -- If you don't ask the right questions, you may not get the right answer. Somethings have to be learned through experience. 

The warming drawer pull did not match what we had requested, the Wolf kitchen vent would not fit as the depth was too much for the space available. Solve, solve, solve and solve now! I had to work with the sales and installation team to change the vent from Wolf to Best. We also needed to special order a 1" tubular handle for the wine cabinet to match the handles for the refrigerator.

Over the years, I have learned to work with local suppliers and dealers as it is easier to get quick and quality service from them vs. others that may offer higher discounts but the wing-to-wing implementation and service cost may not be the lowest. 

Removing the island was a bit tricky. It was a large and heavy piece of granite. We also wanted to reuse the piece, so we had to make sure their was no damage while taking it off and moving it to the patio. 

You can see that the new design is starting to show in the kitchen.

#Alaska #inspiration #color

Why does a picture of a glacier belong in a blog about remodeling a kitchen? Well, inspiration can come from anywhere. I happened to be on an Alaskan cruise this summer and was mesmerized by the pristine beauty of this glacier. The layers of ice accumulated over centuries had created a marvelous color that I have tried to capture in the paint used in the kitchen. A tough task that required endless samples and an enduring effort to mix colors, drop by drop, to create the perfect color needed. 


Well, we are on the home stretch. Next week is about lighting, fixtures and furnishings. 

Here is the link to my week 1, 2 & 3 blogs -- Please read, if you have not already.

A Kitchen Remodel (Week 2)

A Kitchen Remodel (week 3)

Please leave us all of your questions, comments and feedback as it's an inspiration to us and others.

#oneroomchallenge, #housebeautiful, #LakbirDesign, #home, #design, #kitchen, @oneroomchallenge, @housebeautiful, @LakbirDesign

Sunday, October 23, 2016

One Room Challenge: A Kitchen Remodel (Week 3)

One Room Challenge

Its week 3 already! 

We are working hard on every element and the remodeling of the kitchen is in flight. Everything from our kitchen cabinets is in boxes and our living and dining room have become a huge storage area. 

As disruptive as it feels, seeing the work progress every day and getting closer to the end is extremely encouraging and exciting. I thought it might be best to share the changes through pictures so you can get a good view of things we did this week.

The task list for the week was long and honestly, a bit daunting but I am proud to say we got through it and made significant progress.

  • Get the old stuff out --- Removing the old paint, get the appliances out, tear up the old sheetrock, remove the backsplash.

Much thought and research was done to avoid any additional plumbing and new construction. We wanted as little work and were fortunate to have an existing plumbing line running under it. We simply had to extend the line to be able to install the new pot filler (pasta arm).

  • Prep for the new stuff --- Start painting the cabinets, fix the electrical and the plumbing, get the new sheetrock.

We are trying to replace a double oven with a convection oven and a steam oven. The new units require a 220V line individually. Therefore needed to pull another 220V line to stay within the code.

The refrigerator had an outdated water line feeding the dispenser but this was an easy fix. We had to add some electrical fixtures for the new appliances and new under mount cabinet lights. 

Adding a new wine cabinet -- Minute details of the cabinet need to flow through the new wine cabinet. The crown molding above the refrigerator needs to be cut from the side for continuity of the design and seamless integration. We will get new crown molding installed later with dental spacing and other specification as it needs more detailed work and time. 

Replacing the cooking range with a cooktop left us space at the bottom that needed to be redesigned. This helped us incorporate the warming drawer and configure the remaining space.

  • We got the template made for the countertop and backsplash --- This needs to perfect so we don’t have to do rework at the time of the installation. The team from Marble America did a phenomenal job in getting it done. Then comes the harder part, trying to fit the template on the crystal quartzite slabs. Remember the slabs from the blog last week?... Walker Zanger’s Crystal Quartzite slabs from Brazil is a great choice for a light colored, durable, and exotic natural stone counter top. This quartzite has a beautiful white translucent background with copper colored veins. Unlike a marble, a quartzite is less likely to etch, scratch, and stain. As a natural stone, this quartzite needs to be sealed (see my previous blog). We spent a fair amount of time trying to fit the template so we could capture every vein from the slab and make sure it was going to be on the right areas in the kitchen. After all, you only change the slabs once in a long time! (#WalkerZanger, #MarbleAmerica)

  • Hardware makes all the difference --- When looking for a company, there were four things that I looked for: excellent design aesthetic, products that supported artisanship, craftsmanship for quality, and a commitment to customer service. After a lot of research, I found Waterworks (, #Waterworks). Mostly sourced from European and American studios and factories, Waterworks supports local and artisan workshops. 

  • The level of craftsmanship can be seen within the RW Atlas Two Hole Faucet. Designed in conjunction with Rowan & Williams, the faucet combines an industrial aesthetic with fine details. The industrial look of piping in the faucet pairs with the refinement of a hexagonal base and twirling (cross hatching) found on the spray, faucet and handles. A kitchen, more than any other place in the home, is where show stopping aesthetics should marry functionality. This can be seen in all of the Waterworks products used. The Cushing hardware shows this idea. The sinuous lines of the hardware are not only pleasing to the eye but ergonomically feel good in the hand. The Kerr metal sink is the embodiment of functionality. Made from 16 gauge stainless steel, the sink offers more stability than a 18 gauge or 22 gauge sink. Additionally, the dual compartments of the sink, allow for a separation of dishes when cooking or cleaning and space for a normal drain and garbage disposal. The Waterworks team was really knowledgeable and became an extended part of my team. Beyond offering design advice and sending over visual products, making approval easy, they also acted as a logistical coordinators, managing lead times and delivery. 

R.W. Atlas Wall Mounted Articulated Pot Filler, Metal Lever Handles

RW Atlas Two Hole Bridge High Profile Kitchen Faucet, Metal Side Mount Levers and Spray

Cushing Pulls

Length: 3"
Primary Material: Brass 

Length From Centers: 12" Projection: 2 1/4"Height: 1 3/16" Length: 18"Primary Material: Brass 

Kerr 35 ¾” x 18 ½” x 10 5/8” Twin Stainless Steel Kitchen Sink with Rear Drains 

  • Finally starting to see some finishes --- Still very early but I am starting to get a feel for the new design. I already have butterflies in my stomach … Here are some pictures that will give you some idea --

Next week is a big and challenging install week -– Appliances, stone and final coats of paint.

I will share more about the final color for the cabinets and the walls --- I have spent countless hours at the paint store getting a ton of samples and trying them out already. So many great choices, but I finally decided on the paint for the cabinets. #BenjaminMoore

Lots more coming next week. Hope you come back and follow me on this journey.

Here is the link to my week 1 and week 2 blogs -- Please read, if you have not already.

I am sure you are hoping to get a sneak peak at the end product like my son (see below) ! 

Please dont forget to leave us your questions, comments and feedback, it's how we stay inspired and inspire others.

#oneroomchallenge, #housebeautiful, #LakbirDesign, #home, #design, #kitchen, @oneroomchallenge, @housebeautiful, @LakbirDesign

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

One Room Challenge: A Kitchen Remodel (Week 2)

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions …

The toughest, and probably the most exciting part, of any job is when we have to make the final decision. It is game time … no more procrastination! Decisions made during this past week will be in front of us for a long time … especially decisions about appliances, the floor, counter tops, back splash and hardware. It was clearly a busy week but we got thru it and made some great choices.
This started a few months ago when we decided to remodel the kitchen. Our kitchen appliances were about 10 years old, the cabinets paint had started to chip and the granite counter tops were the centerpiece of the kitchen that would overwhelm the rest of the features. I started my research and looked at options for everything that needed to be fixed and replaced. I was amazed at the number of choices available and how creative one can be with design to create some pretty amazing kitchens.

First things first … finalize the scope

At first, I made the decision to keep it simple – Change the appliances and refurbish the existing cabinets and fix what is in most need of repair. Once I started exploring my options and started to narrow down the choices, it became evident that it was not going to be enough. Not for what I really wanted from the design anyway. The counter tops needed to be replaced which led me to the decision to change the backsplash to match the new counter tops and then you have to replace the hardware :) I decided though not to change the floor or change the layout to avoid having to move the gas line or change any of the electrical and plumbing connections. Deciding against removing existing cabinets and the island has significantly reducing overall project costs. While it was ok to keep the floor, it did become a huge factor in choosing the counter top and backsplash.

Where to start… long lead time items

As one would expect, I started with the built-in appliances. I looked at all possible brands and all the variations and combinations, all along trying to make sure I did not add significant re-work to the cabinets and fit this all into the budget. Finally, I locked in on Wolf-Subzero M-Series appliances. I love the quality, finish, versatility of these appliances and I changed the configuration to match my needs and fit the overall design. This week I modified the configuration to add a wine cabinet (to my husband’s delight) and to use some extra space by the refrigerator and swap the cooking range with a cooktop to give me some extra cabinet space. The vendor (Liebert’s from White Plains, NY) was extremely helpful in accommodating these late changes while keeping the same delivery schedule. 

So hard to choose … Most critical decision

Choosing the countertops and backsplash is like choosing a dress.....everything matters … color, tone, texture, material, placement, how it goes with the accessories and the environment.

My research on the material for the kitchen floor, island, the perimeter and the backsplash has been going on for a while. I have been tirelessly looking around at by visiting most of the stone yards around the area at places like Florim, Walker Zanger, European in Ct, Lima Tiles in Stamford, Dimensional  stone and Tile Design, Marble America in New Rochelle, just to name a few.

There was a lot of going back and forth based before coming out down to our final selection. Lead time was very important so I stayed focused on what was already available in stock and of course in our budget.

Finally, I managed to find an absolutely gorgeous and stunning stone Crystal Quartzite (scientific name) that is consistent with the stone. It is a natural stone and it is generally found in white to grey tones. Pink and red hues are a result of iron oxide in the stone. Yellow, blue, green and orange quartzite results from the presence of other minerals. Regardless of the color the quartzite will have streaking caused by varying degrees of pressure in its formation and the random presence of iron oxide or other minerals. Now you have your stone education for the day :)

Quartzite is harder than Granite and marble and withstands heat very well but it must be sealed once before use and then 1-2 times per year. Without the sealant it can stain but this is true of all natural stone including granite and marble. When properly sealed quartzite cleans up easy and provides a seamless continuity to the design. I say all that so you will know what to consider when picking a stone for your project.

Other comparable materials are quartz, granite and marble. Quartz and Quartzite are both popular but they are not the same material. They offer differences in looks, durability and price. Quartz countertops are often called engineered because loose quartz makes up 93% of the material. Its blended with a binder and pigment. The pigmentation allows it to be formulated in a much wider range of color and look which in turn gives the appearance of a natural stone such as a-granite or marble.

I decided to shift from one natural material, Granite, to quartzite because I absolutely fell in love with the translucent, crystal like magic created by this unique stone. The granite along with the dark cabinets and the lime stone was absolutely lost. It is a beautiful stone but it needed to cloud the space versus being dominated by the color and the surrounding material. 

The team from Walker Zenger (Portchester, NY) helped me evaluate my options and made the slabs available in a short timeframe. Marble America (New Rochelle, NY) is my fabrication vendor to help me fabricate and install the stone over the next few weeks. Both are outstanding vendors and I am looking forward to the installation of the stone in a few weeks.

Here are all the options I looked at …


Here are the 2 Finalists …

Then there was a final choice …

The before and after … looking forward to sharing more after installation

Need to get going … on the rest

I didn't stop all week, I also started work on removing the cabinets, getting them sanded and applying the primer. The old dark color of the cabinets is hard to cover and it will take a couple coats --- As Mario Falco, my general contractor, put’s it --- “We have to sand, prime, then sand again and prime, then sand again and prime then sand and prime one final time and then we will be ready to paint on these cabinets --- The final paint itself will take 2 coats before we do the final coat once all the other installation is done.” He is a professional and a perfectionist. Great GC!!

Work is progress after the first coat …

It has been a very productive week finalizing my design, completing the appliances order, selecting the countertops and backsplash and getting started on sanding those cabinets. I also finished selecting the faucets, hardware, under cabinet lights and the light fixtures. I will share more details on these items next week.

Next week is another big week – receiving hardware, completing the sanding and modifications to the cabinets. The fabricators are coming over tomorrow to make the template and also the sink has been shipped to be delivered by Monday. Thanks to Alexandra Port at Waterworks for making all the transaction easy.

I am so excited about this project and want to thank Linda from Calling it Home for giving me the opportunity to share my journey with everyone as part of One Room Challenge

#oneroomchallenge, #housebeautiful, #LakbirDesign, #home, #design, #kitchen, @oneroomchallenge, @housebeautfiul