On April 15, 2008 we closed on a 1955 Mid-Century Modern home in Merriam, KS that was custom designed by the late Donald R. Hollis of Hollis + Miller Architects. We will be sharing our journey as we update the house to make it our own, while trying to stay as close to the original design as possible.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Well, we officially have a functioning kitchen! LD and I went out to Home Depot yesterday, and purchased a temporary laminate countertop to install our cooktop. We bought a stainless steel 30" Induction Hybrid Electrolux Cooktop from the Sears Outlet during the after Thanksgiving sale. We got a deal we couldn't walk away from, and it is an ELECTROLUX!!! So not only did we have to test it, but we wanted to see it in action.

We still have not decided on the final cabinet stain color. We go back and forth between espresso and mahogany. We are interested in putting in a "white" recycled glass countertop, so we chose an off-white countertop to see how it would look against the current stain ("mahogany") on the cabinets and the stainless steel cooktop. We both agreed that it did not look that hot with the current stain or the cooktop; however, a light colored countertop looks sharp against an expresso finish.

With the depth of our new kitchen island, fitting the cooktop and the countertop was a challenge. We really did not want to cut into the brand new cabinets, so LD made some careful measurements. She layed out the template, and I used the jigsaw to cut it out. The cooktop dropped in easier than we expected.

The electrical connection, however, was a little more challenging. With a little assistance from our neighbor, we worked our way through the wire situation. LD turned the electical switch back on, and our new Electrolux cooktop came to life! We tested the two electrical elements, but were unable to test the two induction elements because we need to buy some aluminum or stainless steel cookware. Currently, we only own cast iron skillets, which are not recommended for the glass cooktop.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Progress in the kitchen today!

Today was a very exciting day for us.  After months of not being able to get anyone to give us an estimate for the cabinets, our friends Kathleen and Mark recommended we contact Bob and Ryan McGrath.  We contacted them just before the holidays, and they came out to do some measurements.  LD knew she wanted to hire them when she found out that the words "may not work" did not exist in their vocabulary.  Instead of focusing on all the difficulties, they focused on what was possible and how to work around any barriers.  So when Bob called back a couple of weeks later with the estimate, we decided to give them the job.   They were ready to start last week, but we still had some drywall work that needed to be done.  So they started work today. 

We thought it would take them all week.  Needless to say, we were quite shocked when we drove over to the house and saw that they were nearly complete!  They will be coming in tomorrow to finish the job.

To top off an awesome day, our Johnsonite stair tread material was delivered today.  They are scheduled to be installed later this week!  We decided to go with Sea Breeze with a bamboo pattern.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Light Electrical and Spackling

I spent a couple of hours replacing several light switches, while LD removed the last remaining wallpaper paste and did some light spackling.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Limestone Entryway

When we had the asbestos tiles removed we asked the contractor to leave the flooring in the small entryway intact.  We really liked the look of that flooring, which was similar to black slate.  When the hallway carpet and the asbestos tiles were removed we discovered that the flooring was actually some sort of rubber, and it was not in as great shape as we had hoped.  Like it or not we would have to replace it.   We searched everywhere for something that would give us the same type of look, but were unable to find anything that would even come close.

So we decided to go with black slate tiles, and drove to the Tile and Stone Warehouse.  Once we got there, however, the black slate tile did not feel right for the space.  So we looked around and found some white limestone that we both really liked, but at $11.99 a square foot we could not justify the cost (the slate was only $3.50 a square foot).  However, we had 2 concerns with the limestone-durability and how hard would it be to keep clean with the three dogs.  We tried looking for ceramic tile that resembled limestone, but nothing came close.

While LD was looking for a source of cement board, she came across (the store where we almost purchased hardwood flooring).  To her surprise, she found white honed limestone from Jersusalem for $2.49/sq. ft.   So we purchased the limestone and got to work.  It turned out to be a better choice than we thought-the fossils in the limestone add to the naturalness of our home.  

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Plumbing and Sanding over a Beautiful January Weekend!

Well the best laid out plans don't always work out.  We had planned on taking advantage of the sixty degree weather to work on a bunch of small projects around the house this weekend.  Those projects were derailed, however, when we removed the sink in the small downstairs bathroom.  (We had to remove the sink to prepare the wall for drywall patching.)  When we disconnected the supply lines, the original shut-off valves would not stop leaking.  So off to Home Depot we went to purchase new ones.  

We got back and got to work.  The first shut-off valve was replaced without a hitch, unfortunately the hot water nipple was too corroded.  So we had to buy a six inch brass nipple, and off to Home Depot we went again.  The corroded nipple came off quite easily, the replacement did not go as well.  LD managed to install the new brass pipe.  Unfortunately, it started leaking once we turned the water pressure back on.  Harold (our neighbor) helped us diagnose the problem, and made us a list of parts to fix the problem.  So off to Lowes we went (Home Depot had run out of six inch brass nipples).

LD played plumber's apprentice, and after a few hours they managed to repair the damaged parts.

The weekend wasn't all plumbing though.  I did manage to finish sanding the pecky cypress wall in the basement.  Now we have to decide if we want to stain it (add a little brown tint to the natural red of the cypress) or keep it natural and apply polyurethane.  Sanding was followed by lots of dusting and cleaning.