Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Kitchen Remodel: Phase I

My new kitchen appliances have arrived and a few days ago, I met with my kitchen remodeler to finalize plans for the kitchen renovation at the house in Hooterville
The existing kitchen will be completely gutted.  Besides being really  ugly and ORANGE,  it’s  very poorly constructed.  
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Obviously this was a DIY project by a very inexperienced DIY-er.
I also wanted some of the appliances relocated because the kitchen just doesn’t function well with the current configuration.
The kitchen renovation planning process has been very difficult for me.   Although I feel comfortable with the cabinet guy I selected to do the renovation, he and the others I consulted about the job basically relied on me to tell them what I wanted rather than them using their experience to come up with a plan.  It was a  task I have not felt completely comfortable or qualified to take on.   In my current house, we’ve done a couple cosmetic makeovers through the years which included re-facing the existing cabinets and installing new countertops but  planning a complete cabinet rip-out with some redesigning elements thrown in  has been a bit daunting.   When it’s all said and done, I hope I got it right.  Even now, as I look at the diagrams of the proposed changes while I write this post, I’m second-guessing some of my decisions.
So here’s the plan:
That hideous home-made  light over the island and the ceiling beams are DEFINITELY coming down.  The beams make the 8 ft. ceiling look and feel  much lower.  The refrigerator will be relocated to another wall.  The main traffic flow through the kitchen is right along the sink wall and when the refrigerator or freezer door is open, there is not enough room to get around it.

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The new upper cabinets going on the wall in the photo above will be shifted to the right and will include a built-in wall oven, as shown below.

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The stove and microwave will no longer be on this wall.  The refrigerator will be relocated to the left of the current stove, as depicted in the diagram below.   In this new location, the refrigerator will be  right by  another doorway… the doorway to  the formal dining room.  However,  I don’t anticipate the formal dining room being used much except maybe  at the holidays, so traffic flow through that doorway will be minimal.  

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The diagrams show an island but after much deliberation, I have decided to eliminate it.  Later on, I might try adding  a small free-standing island but after working around the island in the existing kitchen, I’ve come to the conclusion that an island is just not very workable or practical  in a kitchen of this size and layout.


A smooth cook top will be inserted into the counter top on the family room side of the kitchen and a short wall (not shown in the drawing) will be built on the back side of this bank of cabinets to divide it from the family room.  It will extend approximately four inches above the countertop to create a backsplash which will prevent cooking spills and splatters from migrating over into the family room.   There will be pull-out drawers underneath the cook top for pots and pans.  The corner bottom cabinet will have a lazy Susan/carousel to maximize every inch of storage space in that deep corner.

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In the diagram below you can see there is a pantry  sketched in where the refrigerator was originally located.  However, in the final kitchen plans, I  asked that the pantry be moved to the right side of the dishwasher, which will give me more counter space to the left of the sink. 

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The cabinets will be white with raised panel doors.

raised door panel

The countertops will be LG Hi-Macs solid surface in a mottled dark charcoal gray and black color called “Graphite Granite” (G103).

LG G103 Graphite Granite Solid Surface

I haven’t decided 100% on a backsplash material yet.   I am leaning heavily toward using the Graham & Brown Super Fresco paintable bead board wallpaper that everyone across Blogland has been using and loving, including me.  I used it here, here and here  (see note at end of post).  However,  I’m also considering white subway tiles.
The flooring will be the same laminate I have in the foyer, sun porch and breakfast room at the house in Hooterville
Columbia Cachet Clic in Carmelized Claro Walnut.

columbia carmelized claro walnut

Tear out of the existing cabinets and installation of the new ones will begin in 3 to 5 weeks.
**Note regarding the Graham & Brown Super Fresco bead board wallpaper:  
I just realized  HomeDepot.com does not appear to be carrying this bead board wallpaper anymore!  I did find it can still be ordered through Rhoda’s Open Sky shop but it says stock is low so if you’ve been **thinking** about trying it, I wouldn’t wait any longer.  I hope it hasn’t been discontinued by the company!  Horrors!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Samsung Washer/Dryer From hhgregg Ordeal

Ordeal:  NOUN
1. A difficult or painful experience, especially one that severely tests character or endurance.
2.  A severe or trying experience.


You might remember I posted a rant in April about my new Samsung front loading washer that wasn’t even 90 days old when it  started repeatedly shutting down in mid-cycle and giving an error code. 
Here’s a condensed (but still rather long) version of the difficult, painful, and trying experience the retailer where I bought the washer (and matching dryer), hhgregg,  put me through for four months.
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Essentially, hhgregg was absolutely NO help when the machine started to malfunction.   Since their ridiculous 2 week return period had passed, they would not exchange the washer so I had two service calls through the service contract with hhgregg, and Samsung sent repairmen out on two other occasions.    After 4 service calls in less than 4 weeks, I was fed up. 
FORTUNATELY, I had put the washer/dryer purchase on a credit card so I decided to open a dispute with the credit card company.  Per their instructions, I sent them a long, detailed letter explaining the problem I was having with the washer, specific dates and details of the conversations I had with hhgregg and Samsung representatives, and I included documentation of the service calls. 

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About 5 weeks later, I received a phone message from a representative in the hhgregg home office in Indiana.  I immediately returned her call but got her voicemail so I left my name and phone number.  When I didn’t hear back from her after 2 days, I called her again.  She claimed she “could not find (my) file”  and appeared chagrined that she had absolutely “no recall” of why she had called me.
At the time, I did think it was a little odd that she couldn’t find my file but, nevertheless, I had a lengthy discussion with her regarding the continuous problems I  had with the washing machine.  I told her I was quite upset with the lack of concern and customer service I received from hhgregg.  I also told her she was the first and only person from hhgregg to contact me and I was completely disgusted that her contact came only AFTER I had opened a payment dispute with the credit card company.  Too little, too late!
 hhgregg (E)
She seemed empathetic, acknowledged she would be upset too, and said she planned to follow up to see why the sales manager and general manager of the local hhgregg store had never called me back as promised.
The very next day after that conversation with the hhgregg representative, I got a letter from the credit card company indicating I had LOST the dispute.  The reason:   someone from  hhgregg (likely the same woman I had just talked to the day before) had written the credit card company a letter stating they had “TRIED” to reach me and I never responded!
But get this:  The credit card company sent me a copy of the hhgregg letter claiming  I didn’t respond and it was dated ONE FULL WEEK BEFORE I ever got the call from the hhgregg representative!
Can you believe a  company would stoop to such unscrupulous behavior?!

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In retrospect, I now fully believe  the hhgregg representative I spoke with knew full well that she, or someone else with hhgregg had already falsely reported to the credit card company that they could not reach me and her so-called inability to locate my file  was probably a convenient way to feign ignorance in an attempt to avoid telling me.
After all the documentation I had provided to the credit card company, I was absolutely livid that hhgregg won the dispute by simply claiming they could not reach me!  How was that right?  I thought, so much for my consumer rights and the protection paying by credit card was suppose to afford me!
I fired off another detailed letter to the credit card company, informing them of the blatant inaccuracy of hhgregg’s letter.  The credit card company  reopened my dispute, which I ultimately  won and they subsequently removed all charges associated with the washer from my credit card account. 
After I won the dispute, hhgregg sure had no problem reaching me about picking up the washer  but,  surprise, surprise…they  didn’t want to take back the dryer. 

hhgregg (E)

The credit card company had already told me if hhgregg wouldn’t take the dryer back voluntarily and issue a credit, I could open another dispute since I had purchased the washer/dryer as a matching set.   So when the same hhgregg representative in Indiana who couldn’t find my file  started trying to jerk my chain about the dryer, I was prepared for another fight!
Mad as a wet hornet, I decided to go over her head and I got someone else from hhgregg corporate headquarters who agreed to have the  dryer picked up  too since I had won the washer dispute.
I learned two very valuable lessons from this ordeal and I want to pass them on to you.
#1.  Choose your retailer carefully.  Remember my experience if you are ever inclined to do business with hhgregg.  Frankly, I feel like I have been to consumer’s hell and back after dealing with hhgregg.  I will NEVER buy anything from them again. 

hhgregg (E)

#2.  Even if you have the money to pay cash, always place a major purchase (like appliances) on a credit card until you are sure you didn’t buy a lemon.   No one likes credit card debt, including me, and in fact, right before  the washer started malfunctioning, I was planning to pay off the credit card when the next statement came.    Boy, am I ever glad I hadn’t done it yet!   In the end, opening and winning the credit card dispute for the washer was my ONLY recourse in getting hhgregg to take the washer/dryer back.
I just purchased  a new washer and dryer from Lowe’s.  I also bought a refrigerator, dishwasher, electric cook top and wall oven from Lowe’s for the kitchen remodel we are about to start at the house in Hooterville
That was a $7,000 sale that COULD have belonged to hhgregg… IF they had treated me right.
And yes, you can bet your bottom dollar these new appliances from Lowe’s are on a 12 month/0% interest Lowe’s credit card until I make sure I didn’t end up with a lemon in this bunch.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


The first foal born at our farm, Lira, is now 3 months old.  I thought you might like to see some updated photos of how absolutely adorable she is. 

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She’s just the sweetest,  friendliest, most affectionate thing.  She’s really curious and smart too.  (Do I sound like a proud “grandma”?)

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We are also amazed how HUGE she is for only 3 months old. My daughter is 5 feet 7 inches  tall so you can really get a good perspective of how big Lira is compared to my daughter. 

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If  Lira keeps growing at this rate, it’s possible she could get as big as her mom, Jolie, who is part draft horse.

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Look at that sweet face!

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I might be a tiny bit prejudiced but I think she’s just so darn cute I could squeeze her to pieces!!!!! 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sitting Pretty: Thank You Ballard Designs!

Not long after I started my blog, I posted about turning a spare bedroom into a French country cottage inspired office/guest room and mentioned how I was looking for a pretty chair to replace the (very ugly) basic office task chair at my (Ballard Designs) computer desk.

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For a long time, I have coveted the castered parsons chair with the French Ticking Blue slipcover from Ballard Designs.

Ballard parsons chair

I looked at a lot of desk chairs but this chair always remained at the very top of my wish list.  However,  I couldn’t justify the $209 they wanted  just  for the French Blue Ticking slipcover (plus $139 for the chair) so I just kept watching the website, hoping the slipcover would eventually go on sale.
Lo and behold, I finally saw the slipcover on sale for $59.99!  It was too good to be true! 
When I went through the checkout process on the website, I was charged the “sale” price but later found $209.00 had actually been charged to my credit card!
No, no, no!
I called Ballard Designs to question the discrepancy and was promptly informed it was a website glitch that was making the French Ticking Blue slipcover  show up as being on sale when, in fact, the slipcover  was NOT really on sale and the true price for it  was still $209.00…and that’s the price they were sticking to.
Boooooooooo!  Cancel my order and issue a credit to my credit card please.
To make a long story a bit shorter, over the next few weeks I saw the slipcover on sale several more times but when I would question it, I was told they were still having problems with the website.  After I did some crying and whining, Ballard Designs did the right thing and sold me the slipcover for the sale price.  But they went one step over and above and gave me the lowest price that had appeared on the website during the glitch ...$39.99!
Yes, yes, yes!

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Thanks to Ballard Designs,  I’m now sitting pretty!



**Please note:  I have no affiliation with Ballard Designs  nor did I receive any compensation (or a discounted price) from them  to mention them or their products here on my blog.  I’m just one happy customer who wanted to share my experience (and pretty new chair).

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

More Eye Candy From Victoria Magazine

Victoria Magazine has done it again.
They have a new publication out called Rooms of Bliss.
I found this issue today at my home-away-from-home, Lowe’s.

Victoria 1Victoria 2Victoria 3Victoria 4

I was just getting ready to run out to pick up a few things at Wally World but it’s pouring rain now so instead, I think I will curl up on the sofa with a cup of coffee and devour the contents of this beautiful magazine.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Plantation Shutters and a Few New Pieces of Furniture

Recently, the plantation shutters were installed at the house in Hooterville.  This is one of the bedrooms.

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The bedroom in the photo below will be the primary guest room.  I decided to make it  pink and girly because any guests we have will most likely be female.  I never can get the pretty soft shell pink wall color in here to photograph accurately. 

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You can see I have hung a crystal chandelier over the bed.  I took the old brass and crystal chandelier out of the formal dining room, sprayed the brass with primer, then Heirloom White and rehung it in this guest room.  (I will be bringing my mom’s crystal chandelier from my current house to hang in the formal dining room.)
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My hubby just can’t understand the purpose of hanging  a chandelier in the bedroom.  (lol)  But I know YOU get it, don’t you? 
Of course you do!
I also had shutters installed on the bay window in the family room.  This window gets sun exposure all day long and it always felt at least 10 degrees hotter on that side of the room.  Even with the slats open, the shutters have made a huge difference in blocking out the heat! 

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My new slip-covered sofa  finally arrived and it is so comfy!   It looks a little yellow in this photo but it’s actually a natural/off white colored twill fabric.  I’m not certain if the sofa will stay in front of the bay window, or not.  Once I get the rest of the furniture in this room, I’m sure I will be moving things all around many times  to find the most workable furniture arrangement.
Hubby also picked himself out a leather Lazy Boy recliner for the family room.  Normally, I hate the look of big recliners, and I’m not all that fond of leather either but I didn’t think the style of this chair was too bad.  I actually like the rolled arms and nail head trim.  And leather seemed to be the obvious choice to compliment the rustic stone fireplace wall (which you can see in its entirety here). 

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I recently picked up this little end table on a trip to TJMaxx.  There are actually about 3 places in the house I could use this table so I’m not exactly sure where it will end up.  Again, when I move my furniture from the current house to the house in Hooterville, I think it will be easier to decide where it will work best. 

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Then, when I determine where it will be used, I will be painting it (color also to be determined later) because the pale yellow doesn’t fit in with the color scheme of any of the rooms it is likely to end up in.
Last week  I placed the order for the new kitchen appliances.  I have also chosen my kitchen cabinet builder/remodeling guy.  He has already made me a countertop for the sink wall of cabinets in the laundry room and I’ll be posting photos  soon.   Within the next week or two, I anticipate sitting down with him to work out all of the details of the kitchen remodel so that project can finally get underway.
It has already been  9 (yes, NINE!) months since we bought the house in Hooterville and I can not believe we still are not completely moved in.  Renovating this house and farm has taken far more time,  work (and money) than we ever dreamed.   Some of it has been fun and extremely rewarding.  Other parts of it have been frustrating and downright stressful to the point we were ready to throw in the towel and say, “We can’t do this another day.”   But somehow we manage to keep plugging along.
What an adventure!