Posts Tagged ‘Renovation’

You would think that with renovation done and having moved into my new place would mean peace of mind. Quite the contrary. I am finding so many errors, and took the day off today to discuss details of errors with my contractor and run errands. I don’t know how to connect speakers into the wall and found someone in my building who will do it for an hourly fee. I had so many more errands to run, and am taking time off to buy furniture. Buying furniture is no easy feat — which places in NY sell contemporary stuff? Very few. Crate and Barrel, West Elm, and Bo Concept are common. I read reviews and went to places such as Moss and Cassina – Moss had novelty one-of-a-kind pieces (at one-of-a-kind prices), and Cassina had gorgeous Italian-made leather furniture with skyrocketing prices. AM liked one leather chair which cost OVER $6,300!!! Seriously! Ridiculous prices! How come they are still in business? No piece of furniture is worth that much.

So yeah buying furniture is no easy feat because there are very few places in the city. There are small boutique-type places but they must be pricey. Sigh!

Anyway, I was done with my errands by 3 pm, and decided to watch Twilight Eclipse. I watched previous parts on Amazon On Demand and liked the movies. This one I watched in the theater and it was so boring. The entire movie is focused on the love triangle between Edward the vampire, Jacob the werewolf, and Bella who loves both of them but loves Edward more. I tried reading the book, but the book was so much worse. The entire book just had conversations between Bella and Edward, silly conversations. I could not even read half the book. The movies are much better because of the action sequences which I love. But Eclipse was so boring, and I did not see the chemistry between Bella and Jacob – her love for him was so out of the blue. Kristen Stewart is so wooden and dull. Her tone is bla, and whether she is happy or sad or in love, she has the same tone. I could not bear to watch or listen to her. I don’t understand how two awesome guys can be in love with the bark of the tree — really — she is just so yawn. I also don’t get that she was all about Edward and now all of a sudden she wants to spend more time with Jacob. It seems like she is double-dating and expects Edward to be okay with it. Argh! I kept thinking, when is this movie going to get over?

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Apartment coming along

Its been 8 LONG months into renovation and my apartment is finally *almost* done. I will move in next week – yay!!! I have cleaners coming in at 9am tomorrow — AM is not going to be happy about waking up early on Saturday. Both are guy cleaners. I have never gotten my apartment cleaned by a guy before, and am prejudiced – guys in general don’t do as good a job as women, IMO. So I am not looking forward to it, but really to find two cleaners on a long weekend is tough. I am so excited! I am eyeing a dining table at Crate and Barrel and will buy it this weekend. I have an idea of the types of dining chairs I want, but I don’t think I can get something like that. I would totally love to have the couch from SATC 2 — blue velvet! I love velvet, but its too high maintenance.

I posted my kitchen pics on Gardenweb forums, and people love it. Its so flattering!! I cannot wait for everything to come together. I may get apartmenttherapy.com to come over, but honestly given the amount of love and effort I have put into my home, I maybe overly sensitive to criticism and there are so many haters on forums. Sigh.

After moving, there will still be some work left. My bedroom does not have a door – my architect forgot to put one! And the doorway size is small, so it will have to be done after building inspection. Too much of a headache because that area has to have a dropped ceiling and a door frame built. Some closets need to be done as well. Its like a never-ending thing. I am right now all the way upper east, and its so isolated. Once I move back, I will be closer to the park, subway, theaters, & restaurants.

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Electrical plan

I had to make so many spot decisions on the electrical plan. Where should every single switch be located? Where should wall outlets be located? How many? One-way, 2-way, or 3-way switches? So complicated! The electrician, contractor, architect, AM and I went through every single location and made spot decisions on everything. It was all so fast! I thought some more and will need to change a few decisions. I also have to change the entire plan of the kitchen. What I have in mind is not easy, and it needs to be executed right to be done well.

Also my architect made an error in measurements for a bathroom which resulted in a few issues. The toilet has to align with a closet, and shower with the sink. My architect had the sink quoted at 1 foot less, but I got sinks that fit the correct size. The problem is, when you enter the bathroom you may run into the sink countertop or see it since its not aligned. The other issue was that the contractor already developed wall framing around the areas where bathroom lighting was supposed to be, and since the architect missed by a foot, the lighting is not centralized. After much deliberation I think we just have to live with the fact that the medicine cabinet and lighting are not aligned – its not that obvious really. I would prefer that it were aligned though. I usually check all dimensions and work of my architect, but she did not send it to me to approve, and I did not think of double-checking.

While I have been annoyed at the lack of interpersonal skills in my contractor and his manner of saying stupid things and throwing tantrums, he is proving to be very helpful. His ideas are good, he points out anything that is wrong with the plans, he gives his opinions on everything, and does not hesitate to say “this is BS” if he thinks so even if the idea maybe mine. I don’t mind that – I kind of prefer that he is opinionated and outspoken because it gets me thinking. And his ideas are good, he speaks from experience. But he is more practical than aesthetic, and I try to balance both. When I took this job, I had no idea how many decisions I would have to make. I mean, even where the switch should be located.

AM and I have different opinions on small things – should 1 switch control 4 lights or should we have 2 switches control 2 lights each? He thinks the fewer the switches the better, and I think that the fewer the lights we use the better. Our building pays for electrical bills so we don’t need to conserve electricity, but I don’t want to use more lights than necessary. We decided to rely on our contractor’s decisions wherever we disagree. I see now why my contractor thinks architects are impractical – architects just draw on a piece of paper while contractors execute and know more about the stuff. Architects focus on aesthetics and may sometimes be impractical while contractors are always practical while being aesthetically-challenged sometimes.

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I came across the Bocci light fixtures while surfing for lighting. Gorgeous, gorgeous fixtures designed by Omer Arbel. They look like candles floating in water. These pictures do not do it justice. They are pricey – each globe costs $200 with the pendant. They come in clusters of 5, 10, 14 or more. 14 is ideal, but too expensive!

The new American Eagle store on Times Square has these fixtures on the entry floor. They probably spent $10,000 on it — yes I counted them, and they had around 52 of these. But the store display does not do these fixtures justice. There are track lights brighter than the Bocci all around this fixture, and since the track lights are way brighter, the Bocci’s visual awe is diminished. What a shame! To spend $10K and not even worth it. Waste of money if you ask me. The Bocci is best when its the only lighting in that area, although it doesn’t give off enough light to be a primary source.

Club Monaco on Columbus Ave also has these fixtures – I will check them out today. Gorgeous, gorgeous fixtures, best seen from afar.

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I ordered plumbing fixtures (faucets, sinks, shower system, etc.) from many brands since I did not want to put all my eggs in one basket. Kohler, Grohe, Hansgrohe, Duravit, and Dornbracht. Kohler is heavy, sturdy, made of metal, and highly recommended by my contractor. But its too thick and traditional-looking for my taste. Dornbracht is my fav – I love love love their fixtures. Sturdy, sleek, contemporary, gorgeous looking. Pricey!! I ordered only 3 from Dornbracht because of the $$$$$. Totally worth it though. Hansgrohe is quite good too, and I wanted to make sure that I get all metal fixtures because some of their stuff is plastic.

I like Grohe the least – its all plastic. The plastic is called resin and is supposed to be more functional than metal (or so they say), but honestly why will I pay for plastic when I can get metal for the same price? To me the stuff looked flimsy. I wanted to return, but the store will charge me a restocking fee of 20%-25% for returns. What BS! Anyway the salesperson told me she had no complaints from Grohe so I should keep it. I will never buy Grohe again unless it blows my mind.

Duravit is quite good and very reasonable. I got really good rates. Its sinks are very common in NY, and they come in various sizes which are perfect for tiny Manhattan bathrooms. I bought some stuff online, and some from two stores. I got the best prices online plus 5% off plus free shipping plus no tax! But the stuff in stores seemed to look better than online which had minor scratches. Overall I am happy with my choices.

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Renovation week 8

I cannot believe that its already end of week 8 since my renovation officially started!! Week 8, and yet we haven’t even completed milestone # 1 which was supposed to be done in 1 month. Sigh! Christmas holidays, New year’s, bad weather, all excuses to not come to work for contractors. I was hoping to be done with major stuff before winter!

I used to take 1-2 hours from work to meet the contractor & architect, expecting that the time would be enough. Now I just take half the day off – no point rushing things when you have big issues to resolve. I ordered plumbing fixtures, so that is done. The plan needs some last minute changes, which is done. I am not happy with the kitchen plan, and am waiting for my architect to come up with more ideas. Now I know why people say that always keep a stash of money aside because there are things that you don’t expect will come up, and they require money — more money than planned with the contractor. He opened the wall of the bathroom and asked us to change pipes because my building is old, and the pipes are in a poor condition. My super said to replace the pipes from apartments above (which are in my bathroom) because we will have leakage issues which will ruin our tiles. The contractor needs a wider wall to accommodate pipes and electrical. So many details!!

Yesterday, my architect was preparing a plan for bathroom vanity. How high should the vanity be, how high the sink, shower, etc. I was like just go with the standard, because my head is spinning and I don’t want to make these decisions. So my architect made them for me. Too many details…

I suggested one idea to the architect for a room, and its coming along so nicely! That one idea has resulted in so much more space, and now the room looks way bigger. I keep telling AM that and he keeps saying I should stop fishing for compliments.

I cannot wait to see how everything comes together!

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Home sweet home

AM comes back from India tomorrow – I am so excited. Its been a long 2.5 weeks apart. Finally he will be back… yay. Every year he leaves and every year he says I won’t leave you by yourself for so long and every year he does it again. Haa. Its been a busy time though with apartment renovation and what not. The Board of our building rejected our request to move the duct blocking the proposed bedroom entrance, so we have to change the entire plan. It sucks and I was incredibly upset, but in hindsight it saves us a lot of trouble. It would have taken time and money to shift the duct – access to the apartment below, waiting for owners of below apartment to get back to us, breaking their wall, shifting the duct, and patching the wall again. Too much effort!

My contractor is annoying. He must be 45+ and yet he behaves like a kid. Extremely unprofessional. He wants to be in charge and he wants us to listen to him and do as he says. He is extremely uncooperative and does not get that its not his apartment, its ours, so what he wants to do does not matter. My architect is in charge most of the times and dominates conversations with electrician, plumber, etc., and the contractor does not like it. Like I care what he thinks. He sulks in a corner complaining about how he is not needed and how nobody is paying him any attention. When the electrician asked him questions, he kept saying “don’t ask me don’t ask me”. I did not hire him to babysit him — thank God AM is back – he can manage him now. All the contractor does is complain all the time, and my architect gets really annoyed and tells him to shut it, then he complains that she is unprofessional. He doesn’t even return my calls in a timely fashion. What a contrast from his behavior before we signed the contract. I really won’t recommend him to anyone, but his prices are good and his contacts (plumber, electrician) are very good. I guess no contractor is good, and I would rather compromise on interpersonal skills than work quality.

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