Reviewing my own house – Ensuite bathroom (part 2).

First off, sorry if you subscribe to my blog through email and were surprised to find several inappropriate links.
Yes, yes, that little heist did take place on April Fool’s day but it wasn’t my doing (contrary to what many of you may think of me).
So to my hacker friend, if that was just an A.F. joke…good one!
Now fix it you jerk.

Ahhh, now that I’ve got that off my chest let’s move on to more interesting matters…part 2 of our en suite bathroom.
Monday I reviewed the cabinet, counters and faucet.
Today we’re talking the shower, closet and flooring.

During the construction phase we knocked down a wall and extended it 2-ish feet.
Seemed like a lot of effort for just 2 feet but it felt like we gained triple that and it really did make a world of difference.

As for our shower, we installed 8×12 honed carrara marble tiles from Home Depot.

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If you haven’t noticed by now I was going through a bit of marble obsessed phase at that time with our kitchen counters, bathroom counters and now shower. Not saying I’ve left that phase…if I had my druthers I would have thrown all good taste and sense out the window and put in a marble driveway, a marble kitchen floor, marbled toilets, marbled bed frames, marbled closet doors…there’s no end to my insanity when it comes to marble.
Sadly, I’ve learned 2+ years later that marble is a “to be seen but not used” material when it comes to my personality threshold.

Soon after we started using the shower I noticed many of the tiles would change colors. Almost as if the were wet.

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But how could that be?
Every single tile had been professionally sealed (I saw with my own eyes).
I had the tile installer come back and he didn’t have an explanation.
I asked if it could be a leak or crack in the grout and perhaps water was getting through?
We were both on our hands and knees with a flashlight inspecting every inch of that shower and both of us found no comprised tiles or grout.
Over the course of a year I had two more highly recommended professional tilers inspect it who both scratched their heads.
We threw water over there to see if the water beaded up meaning it still had the sealant coat on and it did.
Although all the tiles seem to change at one point or another the corner tiles stay looking darker.
They really couldn’t find anything wrong that might be causing it.
My next step is just to remove and replace those corner tiles…stay tuned for that little adventure.
The bottom line is that marble is just a sensitive stone that is prone to staining (even by water).
***Help me out here…who has marble in their showers? How does it perform and react for you guys?***

VERDICT:
I wouldn’t do marble in a shower again. I’ve seriously got to get over my marble obsession. Please, someone direct me back to these posts next time I start considering marble again.

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The shower head and wand are Moen’s.
They a-ight.
They weren’t my first, second or even third choice.
The plumber installed Moen component parts behind the wall without asking what brand we had chosen. Apparently many plumbers in this area seem to prefer Moen because they are the easiest to install.
Then I brought a non-Moen fixture home and he was all like, “um“…
Then I was thinking, “WHAT THE FRICK!?” But what I said was something much more sweet and Mini-Mouse-ish.
So we had to go with a Moen. Honestly, it’s not been bad at all.
The hand wand is one of those features that you never knew you had to have.
Figuring out the controls was a bit like trying to fly a plane at first. Seems straight forward but not so. The first week we thought it was broken and took cold showers.
The only buggy thing is that you have to be so careful adjusting the temp. One-quarter of a centimeter = a 400 degree temperature change.

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The other feature we hemmed and hawed about for long while was what kind of shower surround to install. Our choices were full framed, semi-framed or European (aka frameless). Full framed means there is chromed metal that goes all the way around the edges of the glass so no water escapes the shower.
Here’s an example of the fully framed shower that used to be in this room before we demo’d it…

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Keep in mind we had just installed all this lovely tile and I didn’t want to take the focus off of it by obscuring the view chromed metal everywhere.

The second choice was semi-framed which to me just meant “still a lot of chromed metal around the doors just a little less”.

The last choice was European style doors which we went with. This mean there was no chromed metal around the edges of the glass, only clips which hold the glass in place. There is a minimal gap between the glass and the actual shower edges. The benefit is you have a clean look without metal frames.

IMG_1740We do have minimal water spray that comes through the cracks but we just wipe it up with the towel floor mat when done showering, but again, it’s really minimal. When my kids shower in there once in a while, that’s another story. They think they’re Jedi’s when they shower so water is EVERYWHERE. It’s not proven to be a kid friendly feature.

While there really isn’t that much water leakage through the entire run of shower it isn’t completely fool proof. One edge more water leaks than the other, and still isn’t a whole lot, but enough to cause the paint on this baseboard to wrinkle. We’re planning on removing this baseboard and replacing it with a marble baseboard (see, there I go again with the marble. I’ll never learn).

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The trick to making a full European style work is that you have to have a enough clearance so the water isn’t spraying and running down the inside of the door which will run right out the bottom and on to the floor. You also want to make sure the curb isn’t completely level but has a slight run-off in to the shower.

***What kind of shower frames do you guys have? Like? Dislike?***

VERDICT:
Thumbs up on a European style door. I would just take extra precaution to make sure the circumstances were conducive to making a frameless shower work.

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The bathroom floor is a faux wood tile.

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2+ years ago, faux wood tile was still pretty new. The faux wood tile industry has made huge strides in making the ceramic tile look like real wood. If I compare this faux wood to the faux wood we recently put in our basement I get a twinge disappointed. It doesn’t look as authentic as the basement but oh well. On the flip side it is the EASIEST flooring to maintain EVER. It cleans up beautifully! My only regret is that I wish I would have matched the grout to be almost the same shade as the tile itself.

VERDICT:
100% yes to faux wood. Next time I would make sure to match the grout color to the tile itself. I would also recommend going as thin as possible on the grout lines.

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The closet came from none other than IKEA.
When it comes to IKEA I have my reservations.
In design we’re always going a custom look and Ikea feels…so…not custom.

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But, these Pax wardrobes are so customizable.

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You build them, shape them, organize them according to your vision and needs.

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They have been AWESOME! They are sturdy, take a beating, can be switched around if I need more room below for boots during the winter…I’ve LOVED THEM! AND, for a custom closet you just can’t beat the price.

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VERDICT:
Yeah baby!…to Pax wardrobes from Ikea.
Nuff said.

***Who else has a Pax wardrobe from Ikea? Yea? Nay?***

Read part one of our en suite bathroom review here. You can see more before and afters of the entire en-suite bathroom here.

Reviewing my own house – kitchen appliances

We’ve reviewed our Calacatta marble counters, soapstone counters, kitchen cabinets and wood flooring

next on deck…appliances.

When we were shopping for appliances I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY wanted some beefy, professional grade appliances. Professional appliances are the jewelry of the kitchen in my opinion. But, hot dang! They are pricey. It was a tough sell since cooking is at the bottom of likes on my chore list. I spend an hour in the kitchen preparing a meal then half the family loves it, the other half complains and just want macaroni and cheese, then meal time is over in 10 minutes and I’m left with a mess. It’s worth the 10 minutes of family time around the table but I’m so hiring a personal chef when I come in to money! :) Anyway, at the time they were giving a way a free dishwasher with purchase of a range so we went for it. We were able to save money in other places by purchasing the floor model hood for under $300. (normally $1500) and bought a floor model microwave for a song.

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The Jennair gas range / electric oven rocks! I don’t know a whole lot about BTU’s but this thing will singe your eyebrows right off your face and set your nachos on fire if you turn around for a second (trust me).

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My only complaint is merely a design element issue. The oven is operated by this digital computer face. The perfect height for a toddler. It does have a lock feature. To unlock it you simply slide the box up with your finger….totally not child proof at all. I mean c’mon. We live in an age where kids can operate an ipad, iphone and tv simultaneously at age 2. My toddler had this figured out at 13 months and to him it’s just a big ipad on the oven. We really have to keep an eye on him.

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The dishwasher has been wonderful too. The thing I’ve loved best about it is how quiet it is. We used to have a dishwasher that could only be run at night because it was SO noisy. You can’t even tell when this one is running. We did have to call a repair man once because it stopped draining. A small annoyance but the repair man fixed it and we’ve had no problems since.

Our KitchenAid Refrigerator has french doors for the fridge and a drawer for the freezer. It’s a little over 2 years now. It’s been okay…I mean it keeps the food cold and that’s what it’s supposed to do but we’ve had a few issues that have made it a bit of a pain.

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The major annoyance is that the fridge door doesn’t shut very easily. You’ve got to make sure to give it a good push to make sure it’s good and closed. AND, you have to make sure and shut the right side first or the left side won’t shut and lock properly. Not a good feature with kids (or adults). We once left the house and came back 10 hours later to find that the fridge had been open all day long and all the food was pretty much spoiled. It does have an alarm that beeps after 5 minutes but add two or three 5-minute intervals throughout a day and that’s leaving your fridge open for 10-15 minutes per day.
Over one week that like leaving your fridge open 70 – 105 minutes or 60 – 91 hours per year!
All the energy efficiency savings they claim, pretty much go out the window because the darn thing never shuts and you’ve wasted a lot of energy and money.

When shopping for a refrigerator I did NOT want a water dispenser on the outside of the door. Been there, done that and we were I was constantly wiping water drips off the face of the door. This time I wanted a water dispenser inside the fridge and the Kitchen Aid had just that.

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2+ years later, I’ve used that water dispenser only a handful of times. The water shoots out with such force that it shoots right in the cup then out again all over the place. Also, the water doesn’t really taste all that good even though it’s supposedly “filtered” and we’ve changed it three times since we’ve had it.

Lastly, the bottom crisping tray drawer has a lid that pops open when you open the drawer. When it’s open you can’t open the drawers above it or close the fridge for that matter.

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When my mom was visiting she broke the lid that opens when she opened the drawer above it. It was actually kind of cute how she revealed what she did. She said, “I broke this lid off for you because I knew it was just a matter of time before your kids did it and I wanted to take the heat for them so they wouldn’t have to get in trouble.”
I laughed out loud!
At any rate, its just another poor design problem. When I called to have it fixed under the expensive warranty I bought they said they don’t cover design flaw issues. So now I’ve got this crisping drawer that is useless.

A year back we had an issue where the freezer was no longer was cold. I’ll spare you the story because I’m sure I’ve beaten a dead horse at this point. The end result was it was covered under warranty. Suffice it to say, this fridge has not been my favorite to say the least.

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You also may remember I had my stainless steel appliances protected with a special chemical that is supposed to make keeping them clean a cinch with just water and a microfiber towel. I have liked the result but I still do use Citrushine every once in a while when I really want them to sparkle. It doesn’t have harsh fumes and makes your stainless steel look dazzling (and I’m not being paid to say that). :)

Verdict
I have loved my JennAir Range and Dishwasher and would buy them again in a heartbeat.
The KitchenAid Refrigerator has not impressed me at all and I would not purchase it again.

What kind of appliances do you have? Have you liked/disliked them? Would you purchase them again?

Reviewing my own house – wood floors.

Today I’m continuing on with our series of reviewing my own kitchen.
Last week I reviewed my counter tops and cabinets.
Today we’re talking wood floors in the kitchen and dining.

Our living room, dining and kitchen are all in one big great room. There’s no separation of any designated space. To keep things seamless we ran hardwood flooring throughout the entire great room. We went with oak and had it stained Jacobean (you can read more about the installation and staining process here).

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I knew that hardwood in the kitchen would be tricky. I considered tile for a brief second but I was afraid it would break up the flow of the spaces to have different flooring and I’m not a huge fan of tile in the kitchen because of grout lines! There really is no way to keep grout clean. Even if you seal the grout you still see discoloration in the high traffic areas or if you spill.

The thing that has been most difficult is how dirty the wood looks most of the time.

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Because they are stained dark they show EVERYTHING! I was hoping going with a matte finish would make them look not so glossy and not show mess as much…no such luck. Even after I mop, they look dirty and hazy-gray not one day later. They are incredibly difficult to keep clean. The other frustrating thing is that my boys are constantly dropping utensils, plates, etc on the floors which causes them to chip and dent easily. Even foot prints show up.

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I came across this formula called Rejuvenate at Home Depot a few years back which is supposed to restore your floors like new. You’re only supposed to use it every few months. I put the family to bed then apply it and go to bed. In the morning it’s dry and ready to walk on.

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While it doesn’t take every scratch out it does a darn good job breathing new life in to them. I would highly recommend it.

Our fridge leaked water once and water sat on the hardwood all night causing them to raise and buckle. I called a hardwood guy in a week later to give me a bid to have them repaired.
When he first walked in he said, “Your floors are…what…about 10 years old?”
Me: “Ahem…2 years old thank you very much.”

Considering his reaction we’ve apparently beat the heck out of our floors…even though we have a no shoe policy they still appear very much “lived in”… as I prefer to call it.
He recommended I leave the buckled floor for a month to see if they would self repair after they’ve been given a good long while to dry out…to my surprise, they did.

Verdict:
The hardwood has been very high maintenance in the kitchen but in order to keep the spaces consistent I would probably do it again. Grout lines still scare me in a kitchen but I might consider doing a faux wood tile similar to the one we used in our basement. I might also consider using a much lighter wood that doesn’t show every little speck of dust and probably go with something that has texture to hide our boo-boo’s. I recently spotted a wood floor that I can’t stop thinking about on Full House that might be a lighter, better option.

What kind of flooring do you have in your kitchen? What have you liked/not liked about it?