Saturday, May 31, 2014

Kitchen Granite Installation

Starting the Finish Work

Installing the First Piece of Granite

We have a Counter Top!
And the deep Franke Sink is ready to be Installed.

Carrying in Another Piece
It was heavy and they were moving quickly

Counter Top to the Left of the Stove
We went with a Rounded Edge 

Installing the Left Side of Sink

The Heaviest Piece was the Corner End that has an Overhang
The Drawer Microwave will go in the Opening

In Place

Almost Finished. The Back Splash and the Piece behind the stove will be 
Installed Next.

It's Difficult to get a Good Pic that shows the True Color.
Sort of a Chocolate Brown made up of Different shades.

We Went with a Delta Lewiston Touch Faucet.
We didn't want a High Faucet that Took Away from the View out the window.
Plus the sink is so deep it would have splashed like crazy if it was higher.

You'll have to use your Imagination. The Pic looks Black but
it's Actually Brown.

Now we can start to bring in the Appliances!

Work is picking up everywhere. Yay! Hardscaping and Landscaping are going on outside and the finish carpenters have set up on the inside. The floors received a second coat of poly and have been covered with Rosen paper to protect them.

But nothing says “Light at the end of the tunnel” more than seeing the granite delivered. We (OK, my better half) picked out this great looking granite from Brazil that is called Tobacco Brown. I’ve seen a lot of blacks and whites and beige’s and so on in kitchens, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a brown and it looks fantastic! It contrasts nicely with the white cabinets and will look great with the stainless steel appliances that we’ve picked out.

I just happened to be there (right, it was on purpose) when the folks from Stone-Tek arrived with a truck load of granite. I can say I’m glad I didn’t have to carry any of it. Fortunately they were able to pull up to  the front stairs with truck so they didn’t have to carry the pieces up a bunch of stairs. The large pieces look extremely heavy and there were a lot of groans as they were carrying each piece in and sliding them into place. And because they used a laser for the layout, each piece fit perfectly.

Once the stove is delivered they’ll be back to finish the back splash and the wall behind the stove. The plan is to have a large piece of granite behind the stove that goes up to the vent hood to protect the wall from cooking grease.

We’ve looked at the counter tops a million times and from every angle possible and each time it brings a smile to our faces. I guess you could say we really like the look.

Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Landscape Planning

Time to do Something about the Mud and Rocks

We brought in Material to start establishing the grade.

Sylvan Nursery, Westport, MA
Thousands Millions of Plants to Choose from.

Large Dogwoods
It was like going on an Easter Egg Hunt.

All Types of Grasses to Pick From.

Day Lillies
This section alone could have taken up my day if my Better Half
handn't of dragged me away.

Buzzards Bay
View from just down the road from the Nursery.

Preliminary Drawings and Plant List
Ideas put to paper.

While work was picking up on the inside it was time to start paying attention to the outside and the landscaping. Henry Pereira from Periera Brothers, who was working on our wall, suggested that we reach out to Brooke Merriam from Sunflower Designs in Bristol, RI ( for our landscaping design. It was the perfect suggestion.

Our first meeting went fabulously. We walked around the house and Brooke asked all kinds of questions about the types of plants that we liked, what did we want to do with each section (sides of the house, property lines, privacy, etc.) did we prefer low maintenance plants (yes!) and so on. She asked all the right questions and made great recommendations.  We knew immediately we had the right person for our landscaping. Brooke is an expert and patient and tuned into what we like. She also laughed at my corny humor. That alone gets her many points.

Hiring a Landscape Architect is the right thing to do if you’re a novice gardener like I am. I’m great with day lilies, irises and hostas. The rest, not so much. There is a lot to know about the right plant for the right location, soil prep, watering, where to buy, when to plant and so on. While my better half is better versed in this than I am, having someone help with channeling our thoughts to paper makes it all worth it.

Brooke also suggested that we visit a couple of nurseries to take a look at the various plants to get a better idea of some of the recommendations she had made. Given my limited knowledge of plants and bushes it was an excellent idea. So off we went to Sylvan Nursery in Wetsport, MA ( We should have brought a picnic basket (Hey Boo Boo). If you should ever go to a nursery, be prepared for a long day. Food and water are a necessity. Maybe even a tent. There’s a lot to see and you’ll find yourself wandering from end to end and then back again. You’ll see one tree that you’ll mark and then you’ll find another tree that you like so you have to go back and unmark the other one. Once you find it again. We learned a lot and will probably go back again to see the plants one more time before finalizing our decisions.

So now the fun begins. Brooke quickly provided us with a preliminary plan along with a preliminary plant listing. This is going to be a lot of work. And there needs to be a lot of thought given to our landscaping.
We’ve watched the inside of the house go from concrete to wood frames to sheet rocked walls to paint and actual rooms. Now we're going to help the outside evolve from patches of weeds, dirt and mud to rooms outside with walls, pathways, patios and gardens and lawn.

We’re excited to start this next phase.

Enjoy your day.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Side Entrance Stone Wall & Walkway

 The Side Wall and Walk Way Work Continues

The Steps have been completed and you can see how they are
bringing the wall up to meet the top step.

It's slow going with thousands of pieces of stone.

Beginning of the Top Steps
It was interesting watching them chip each rock to the right shape.
I would have never finished this because I would have spent more
time looking for the right rock.

The Steps are made up of Blue Stone

Lots of Rubble. All used Somewhere.

Steps Completed.
They look great don't they?
If you look closely, you can see the two low voltage lights
on the top stone riser.

Wall Completed.
It's amazing how even with thousands of rocks it's 
straight and plumb.

Gravel was brought in for the Walkway Base

Techo-Bloc - Aberdeen Slabs (Pavers) were used for the walkway.

Techo-Bloc Steps were used to match the Pavers.
We added low voltage stair lights on every other step.

The Stone Veneer on the Garage was Tied Into the Wall.
Those are Bluestone Shelves to divert Water
on top of the Veener.

Completed Walkway Looking Towards the Street.
Plantings will be on the left and right.

Side Entrance from the Street

The Wall, Staps and Walkway came out Fantastic.
We think it really adds to the house.

While I was working on the wood wall, Henry from Pereira Brothers and his crew continued work on the  stonewall on the side of the driveway and the walk way leading to the side door.

We’ve recognized that because the street in front of the house doesn’t have any parking, the side entrance was really going to be the main entrance for guests. So we’ve put a lot of focus on this area.
The stone from Pennsylvania came in on pallets wrapped in chicken wire. Apparently, even with all of the stonewalls that we have in New England, those are really boulders that farmers have dug up through the years. The type of flat stone that we wanted isn’t found in the area so it’s pretty common to have it shipped in from PA.

It was a lot of work. Stone by stone. They really are skilled at constructing walls. While I would have  been spending hours looking for just the right stone, they used their rock hammers to chip away until the rock fit the spot just right. They would slather on mortar and then place the rock on top of the wet mortar tapping it until it was set perfectly. And  then on to the next stone.

The steps at the top of the stairs were finished with bluestone to provide a nice entrance. In addition to putting low voltage walkway lights on the lower stairs, we added a couple on the risers here as well. We’ll put these on some sort of timer to go on at dusk. That part still needs to be figured out.

While the steps were being completed, Mike from Stone Age Masonry returned to finish the stone veneer on the garage and tie it into the wall. He capped the veneer off with blocks of bluestone to shed the shed the water so it wouldn’t get behind the veneer.

Once the wall and steps were completed, Henry brought in a load of gravel for use under the walkway. They then put sand on top the gravel. This was leveled off and tamped down. Then came the Techo-Bloc Aberdeen slabs (large pavers) ( The walkway is a little wider than we originally planned, but Henry suggested that we match it with the width of the steps so that it would flow better to the landing at the top the wall. Otherwise it would have narrowed only to be widened again over a short distance. It was a good suggestion because we like the way it looks and we can add planters to narrow up the appearance if we need to.

Ever have some work done on your home that you were just tickled with? Well, this is one of those areas for us. The wall, stairs and walkway came out perfectly and we think it really adds a lot to the house. It’s a great place to welcome guests to our new home. We can’t wait to dress it up even more with flowers and bushes.

Next up. Landscape Planning.

Enjoy your weekend! 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Wood Wall

Master Bath Shower - Tiled in Carrara Marble

Master Bath Floor - Carrara Marble to
match the Shower
We had electric heat mats installed under the tile to warm the floor on cold days.

The Stone Wall Work Continues

The Side Wall will help support the Steps and help 
with the Side Yard Grade

Trench for Side Retaining Wall

Squaring Off the Ends

Lining Up the First Course on Packed Gravel

On to the Second Course Using 10" TimberLOK Screws 
to Tie the Timbers Together.

The Two Dead Men Help Secure the Wall

Two Days, 15 - 100 Pound Plus Timbers and a Bunch Mud Retaining Wall

I took last week as a vacation week from work. The word “vacation” was the only part of it that was a vacation. But it was still a good one. I enjoy the break that working outside provides.

This week provided that. Most importantly, I was good and didn’t make the folks working on our house run for the hills. 

At the same time that I was asking them all kinds of questions, I managed to get a coat of paint on the shed’s trim work. Even though the wood was pre-primed, I used the primer and paint all in one combo from Valspar figuring a second coat of primer couldn’t hurt. I’m not sure I would use the combo again. I don’t know if it was the brand or what it was, but it went on like thick wallpaper paste. While the coverage was good, it was just difficult to apply smoothly. But check goes that assignment box.

After I completed the painting, I started on building a retaining wall on the side of the garage. Along the way we plan on adding a fence and I’ll need an 8’ gate to fit my trailer through. However, there is enough of a slope on that side that I needed to step down the grade by using a retaining wall. Once done, we’ll be adding a pathway along the top leading to the back yard.

My wall, made out of pressure treated 6x6’s, is not as elegant as the stone work going on near the side entrance, but it kept me busy and out of everyone’s hair.

Henry (Pereira Brothers) took care of cutting into the hill with his equipment and I went to work. First it was setting a good base of gravel to keep the timbers level and prevent them from sinking. Setting the first course has got to be the hardest part. Everything has to be level, plumb and straight or else all of the other courses will be off.

The timbers are heavy and moving them around by my self was difficult to put it lightly. My back was beat, my muscles ached and as I worked I swore that next time I’d hire someone half my age to build one. It took two days with the second day working in the pouring rain and resulting mud but I got it done.  What’s next?

Enjoy your week.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Stone Wall Re-Started

Trench redug for the Stone Wall footings

Piling up the Stone and Resetting the Lines

Getting the Lines Right
This part is so important as it sets up the rest of the wall.

Rock by Rock it's starting to look like a wall.

You can see where the driveway will fall under the Garage Wall

First Step in Place

The weather is breaking and the doldrums are too. Work is now picking up pace.

Because of our mason’s workload, he’s asked another mason to take over the work. This was difficult for us because the original wall was started last November until the cold of winter set in. Now we had to lay everything out again and explain what we wanted for hardscaping. Half of the problem was remembering what we wanted to begin with.

However, we’re in good hands with Henry Pereira from Pereira Brothers of Warren, RI. If you could picture this cigar chomping guy showing up with his crew going gang busters and finding out that Henry really knows his trade.  He has helped re-plan the wall and walkway to really fit the slope of the land and help save us money. He’s also the kind of person you’d want as a neighbor. So any trepidation that we had of switching masons in mid-stream is long gone.

The wall is coming along fantastically and we couldn’t be more pleased with the work and how it looks. But I’m under the gun for time and need to make it to the electrical supply place now so the pics will have to tell the story today. I’ll add more later.

Enjoy your weekend.