Our Living Room Rug: The Final Chapter

IMG_8214 (800x600)For those of you following the blog, you know all about the living room rug dilemma.

In a nutshell: bought living room seating at estate sales. Bought zebra rug (new) intending to recover the sofa, but after learning that a reupholster job would cost big bucks (and after seeing that the sofa actually went well with the chairs and painting), we (I mean me. My husband was hands in the air on this one) decided to get a new rug.

LRrug2 (551x735)Ta-da! Alright, I’m sorry for the crappy photo. Perhaps a less lazy blogger would have taken the two blankets off the sofa (that she JUST got through tucking in perfectly so the dog wouldn’t completely junk it up during the remodel), but I didn’t have it in me. You’ll just have to imagine the sofa in full floral glory.

After spending hours and hours (I’m so not kidding. HOURS) on design websites and shops, and after consulting with a million people (okay, this time I’m exaggerating), decided on a 10 x 14 neutral hemp-wool blend rug by Safavieh that I found on Overstock. It’s funny, many sites listed it as a jute-wool blend, but it is actually a hemp blend (is the hemp thing still that off-putting to some?).

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Part of me wanted to go really eclectic and I came up with some options like this one from Serena and Lily….

Feather Rug – Bark/Smoke | Serena & Lily 10 x 14. Too much? / Also in Army/Turquoise / $1800

and this one from Anthropologie (although I later saw it was a viscose blend, which I’d read negative things about) …

and a Persian-style one from One Kings Lane…

Medlin Rug, Taupe | Cool & Current | One Kings Lane - Good Browns, but purples might clash?

All of which may have worked fine (or possibly not), but I just wasn’t willing to make such a bold leap, only to find out I was wrong. The thin stripes on the new rug add a bit of excitement and the bumpy texture adds depth, which the room really needed.

And where is the fantastic zebra rug? In the little one’s room. It looks perfect.

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ZebraRug2 (551x735)And so, the living room is finally done!……

Or is it!?!?!……

IMG_8953 (1280x1079)Stay tuned.


Cabinets Have Arrived

IMG_8960 (1280x960)Nevermind that I spent all week cleaning up throw-up and doing laundry (girls had stomach flu)…we have cabinets!

IMG_8942 (1280x960)They arrived on Wednesday on a big white semi. The driver must make a lot of trips out here, because he and the construction crew took off to I assume have lunch, before unloading the truck.

IMG_8947 (960x1280)I chose nordic white maple cabinets by Wood-Mode’s semi-custom line, Brookhaven. The glassed ones aren’t completely see-through. I think they are sanded just a hair. I don’t love that you can see inside, but I also didn’t like the opaque options, which were bubbled or too textured.

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This row of cabinets is on the same side as the family room fireplace. Fridge will go on right.

Now that the cabinets are somewhat in place, we have a much better idea as to what the finished room is going to look like. Pretty exciting stuff.


Meet John, Kitchen Designer

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John Mozena in the showroom at Mutschler Kitchens.

I first heard of Mutschler Kitchens during our house hunt. The sales blurb about one particular home included a “beautiful Mutschler kitchen!” or some such. The photos showed a dark brown kitchen that was dated and very much not to my liking. I didn’t know what a Mutschler Kitchen was, and I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to see one again.

After we purchased our home and started putting feelers out for kitchen builders, the name Mutschler kept coming up. Even though the word, “expensive” was usually spoken after “they’re the best,” the praises were hard to ignore and after perusing their website, (online presence here is SO different from San Francisco, where even the tiniest company has a website. Some businesses don’t exist anywhere online here – inconceivable) I decided to give them a call and was put through to John Mozena.

IMG_8758 (551x800)I had a pretty good idea about what happens during a remodel and a ballpark idea about financial commitment, but I knew nothing about how to get to that point – the process, the planning, the length of a project from start to finish, etc.  John gave me an overview of the process and answered all my questions.

I also learned that most specialty kitchen designers/construction companies only use certain cabinet brands. Mutschler happens to deal with the high-end Woodmode and Brookhaven (custom and semi-custom), made-in-the-USA cabinet lines.

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Image on Mutschler Kitchen website featuring WoodMode cabinetry

At the end of the call, John said I was welcome to stop by their showroom on the Hill (main shopping district in Grosse Pointe Farms) to look at cabinets and grab a few brochures (which I did do shortly afterwards).

During the quote process, I stopped by the office again to view the proposed designs (plans can’t leave the building without a signed contract). At the meeting, I was shown the scheduling board. It was a calendar of sorts, with each project assigned to a different color (I think) and labeled with the client’s last name. The entire project was mapped out from beginning to end, showing everything from inspections to deliveries to which vendor would be doing what on which days. Swoon.


Mutchler Kitchen and The Blake Company offices (just beyond the purple flowers) on the Hill.

Ultimately, we chose Mutschler because of their reputation, experience, their promise to get the job done for the dollar amount agreed upon and yes, because of that OCD to-the-day scheduling board. When I ask John what sets the company apart from others, he echos the same – they have good designers, they can get jobs done faster (than other builders) without sacrificing quality, their level of detail and their honesty (in regards to pricing).

John’s parents started Mutschler Kitchens in 1954. Back then, Mutschler was a brand of cabinets made in Indiana. At that time, he says, cabinets were usually done by carpenters. The kitchen wall served as the back of the cabinet, you put some boards up and you’re done. Grosse Pointe in the ’50s was the perfect place to introduce a high-end line of custom cabinets, and the company thrived.

Image credit: Flickr

In 1969, John started working there in the summers. It was the path of least resistance, he says, and adds that he’s never had a job interview (imagine!). He did a little of this and a little of that – tear outs, odd jobs, office work, sales – and eventually learned the art of kitchen/bath design through a woman at the office who became a mentor to him.

John sold the business to The Blake Company (who kept the Mutschler name for obvious reasons) in 2001 and continued working there as a sales rep and designer. Today, the company does roughly 50-60 remodels per year (mostly kitchens and bathrooms, but also house additions and corporate projects), and works on five to six projects at any given time.

I asked him about strange requests or unexpected construction stories and he told me about a client who requested a whelping box in the kitchen and a guy who stuck his bowling ball in the oven to warm it up (um, okay) and accidentally set it to broil instead of bake. He said most construction surprises are the result of poor construction or shoddy work (cutting corners and what not).

Grosse Pointe mansion dazzles as Designer Show House

John and Chris Blake, owner, in the 2010 Designer Show House (it’s a thing. I’ll tell you about it sometime). Image credit: The Detroit News

When I got to the question of trends, John says that Grosse Pointe is kind of in a time warp. Meaning, it has remained a very traditional, classic community (in terms of design) and hasn’t ebbed and flowed with design trends.

People here prefer white kitchens….wait, really?, I say. What about all that dark stuff I saw when looking at houses? Well,according to John, their clients do prefer the white kitchen (guilty as charged). What about opening kitchens up to other rooms, like what we’re doing? Some people are starting to give up formal dining rooms in order to have one big room, but he wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a trend.

Rendering (661x549)We’re halfway into the project and so far, working with Mutschler Kitchens has been worth every penny. Not just because of the job they’re doing (at this point, I honestly wouldn’t know. Thank goodness for husbands who do), but also (and mostly?) because I don’t have to stress out about any of the technical stuff.

Which means I have more time to ponder other matters such as what color to paint the family room (oh my gosh you guys) or the first meal I’m going to cook in my new kitchen. Things are really starting to take shape and we’re super looking forward to the home stretch!





We Have Floors!

IMG_8934 (600x800)Our new floors got installed over the weekend (and completed Monday) – hurray!

To refresh your memory, here’s what the carpeting looked like before. The carpet, in its defense, was actually pretty nice and really good quality. Hate to rip something perfectly good out but we wanted hardwood to match the rest of the house (and because we just love hardwood).

house.family2The floor guy set up a make-shift workshop in the garage,

IMG_8913 (648x800)(and in the family room). And put down a layer of subflooring.

IMG_8920 (600x800)Then he installed 2 1/4″ wide red oak floors. The floors will get stained and sanded last, after everything else (cabinets, moldings, lights) is complete.

IMG_8921 (600x800)He also installed vents that are flush with the floor…

IMG_8935 (800x745)vs. the older vents we have throughout the rest of the house that are raised…

ventThe excitement was short lived; the floors got covered up again the day after they were installed.

IMG_8939 (600x800)But it’s nice to know they’re under the tape and paper. And even nicer knowing that the reason they’re there is because cabinets arrive today!

Kitchen Remodel – Week Three: Inspections, Insulation, Drywall

Week three of the kitchen remodel consisted of electrical and plumbing inspections, insulation, relocating the laundry chute and installing drywall.

IMG_8874 (600x800)IMG_8897 (588x800)IMG_8875 (593x800)The insulation was done by this guy (dang, I wish I could remember his name – Dale?), who also handled our demolition the first week. He’s a really nice guy and very fond of Sam the Labrador.

Sam, by the way, is so used to people coming in and out of the house, he barely gets up anymore to greet anyone. And he’s the only one who can sleep through the noise. His new hangout spot is none other than the floral couch (his old spot was the leather armchair in the family room, which is now in the basement and only accessible via the back of the house).

IMG_8912I covered the couch so he wouldn’t dirty it all up and am hoping that once the remodel is done, he’ll go back to his old spot (and if he doesn’t, he’ll be forced to. sorry, buddy). Yep, the zebra rug is still there (if you haven’t figured it out by now, remodel = expensive). But look – we got a coffee table! It belonged to my mother-in-law’s parents and  it was hanging out in her garage, waiting for a home. It’s a little wobbly, but usable and we love it.

The electricians were here early in the week, finishing up with socket placement and all the other wires for the fridge, and lighting. The outdoor sconce placement was discussed, decided on and marked.

IMG_8876 (600x800)The inspections went well (to my knowledge), but they did insist that we install new smoke detectors throughout the house. We had battery operated ones, so the guys took those out on Wednesday and put in new ones upstairs and downstairs that are hardwired throughout the house. We also had to purchase a carbon monoxide plug-in.

IMG_8895 (600x800)The laundry chute was relocated. Old location is the lower rectangle, new location is the higher rectangle. It will still be accessible, but via a cupboard instead of on the backsplash, where it was before.

(Note: see the hollow area to the left of the laundry chute? That’s unused space under the stairs. Wish we could’ve figured out a way to use but…alas.)

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Standing in the family room looking at the kitchen.

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There will be built-in shelving on either side of the fireplace.

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Standing in the kitchen, looking at the family room. Fireplace on right.

Finally, some light! With the drywall up, the room is instantly brighter (and what the heck color to paint the walls?!? STILL trying to figure that one out. Any ideas?).

IMG_8906 (2) (600x800)Why use a ladder when you have stilts? Drywall was prepped today (I think they’re done? I’m not 100% sure).

Next week is going to be an exciting one….cabinets arrive! Also, I think they’re going to put in a zippered wall (vs. a cardboard and Visqueen wall that obviously we can’t walk through), which will be possibly even more exciting than the cabinets at this point because I am freezing from having to walk all the way around the house to get to the basement (laundry, filing cabinets, printer, random boxes – all of which I use often). It was 34 degrees this morning when we took the girls to school. Yikes.

Which reminds me of another thing I’m looking forward to when this project is done – getting to use our heated garage. My car has been parked outside during the remodel and it is cooooold in the mornings. So much to look forward to (and so thankful that these are my hardships at the moment).