Granite- A journey from the store to the countertop

Today in this post we will trace the journey of how the granite lands on the kitchen countertop.

Step 1- Mother Nature makes the beautiful granite thru the process of metamorphosis or extreme change. Read more here

Step 2- The granite pieces are processed and cut in the quarries and the factories. Watch this informative video here.

Step 3- The finished granite slabs get shipped to the different wholesaler retailers via various means of transportation. The worth of the granite is largely determined by its place of origin and the kind of formation or pattern it holds.

Step 4- Go to a granite wholesale retailer. We went to a retailer in Seattle.

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Step 5- Choose a granite slab among the various options available. Keep in mind the colors of your kitchen cabinet as well as the size of the kitchen, lighting etc. I wanted to go for something that will blend with all sorts of colors, so was preferring a lighter shade. And of course granite can get really expensive, so something lower on the price was also a consideration. Granite countertops not only look classy, but are also more durable and resistant. Here is selection of available options in the warehouse.

My first choice was the style that is third from the front, but then went with another piece similar looking because I could not justify the price difference to myself 🙂

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Step 6- After choosing a granite piece and paying for it, the granite gets carried out to the truck using a forklift. Some day I want to drive this monster!

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Step 7- The forklift carries the granite and with some assistance it is placed on the truck. Two thin wooden plats support the heavy granite slab.

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Step 8- Here is the final product sitting snugly on the truck. Taking it off the truck and hauling it inside the kitchen carefully so that nothing chips or breaks is quite a task and it was only because of Sean and Lorrie’s help that this impossible feat could be achieved.

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Step 9- The next step is to cut the granite to fit the sink, which is an art in itself. After marking the sink’s dimensions on the granite, the granite is cut using a wet saw. This video shows Sean using a wet saw (warning: cover your ears, a wet saw is quite loud).

Also watch this for a closeup of how the wet saw is used:

Step 10- After the cutting is done, we gently nudge the cut granite out of the bigger slab. This has to be done slowly and with patience as a small push in the wrong direction could crack the surrounding granite.

This video here will show you how this is done: 

Step 11- Finally, install/mount the sink base over the cut granite. Sinks can either be mount under or mount on top of the granite. To keep it simple, I had got a top mount sink from the HomeDepot with Lorrie. Here is how it looks when placed over the granite.

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Step 12-Lastly hookup the sink with the faucet and other parts and tada.. you just got done with a significant part of your kitchen renovation!

The finished product looks great, doesn’t it? The sink came as a complete set along with the faucet, drain and everything from HomeDepot.

Total cost of project: $300 for the granite + $300 for the new sink + labor or approx $700.

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The Kitchen Cabinets Go Up

The kitchen cabinets go up! Here are the pictures. This is just the first iteration of this work. The second iteration will involve the final installation of all the cabinets followed by the hooking up of appliances, replacing the kitchen light with a track light, painting of the cabinets and the ceiling.

Here is the list of value-adds I am adding to the kitchen:

  1. Replace the old 1980 cabinets with newer, modern looking cabinets. I got a good deal on Criagslist and got all of the maple colored cabinets that you see in these pictures, for $300. The remaining cabinets and hardware that needed to be bought from Ikea (for the same style)  cost around another $450- bringing the overall cost of the materials to ~$800. All of them are high cabinets(39″) and reach almost upto the ceiling, which is a great space utilization method, makes the kitchen appear more spacious and also does the trick of adding more elegance to the cabinets. When I got a quote for getting all these cabinets new from Ikea, the cost of just the cabinets and the hardware alone was exceeding $1900; so this is a savings of at least 50%.
  2. Add glass to the kitchen. My love for glass has been elaborated in this post. So the kitchen too had to follow this theme. I got some beautiful looking translucent-ish glass cabinet doors from Ikea’s “as-is” section for 50% the price, that were perfect. They worked perfect for the kitchen-adding elegance, but will not reveal exactly what will be stored behind the doors.
  3. Over the range Microwave- As the counter space is limited as it is, I did not want a huge microwave oven to occupy a large portion of it and further reduce the counter space. From my research watching shows on HGTV (yes, that is my stressbuster!), I knew that some home buyers can be finicky about having built in microwaves- so much so that the absence or presence of one, can make or break the home purchase deal for them! Naturally, I wanted an over-the-range Microwave for both these reasons.  Over- the-range Microwave ovens differ from regular Microwaves in that they have an exhaust option built into it. The bottom of these Microwaves usually suck in the exhaust air generated from the cooling occurring on the range and then transmit it via the hood to the outside of the home. To see how it is actually done, I saw a informative youtube video that explained it all and even though it wasn’t absolutely necessary for me to research to this extent,  being the curious cat I am, I saw it so that I could understand: (a) the complexity of the work involved and hence a fair price for the labor involved (b) the part and additional hardware that may be required to install it. Again, I got a really good LG over-the-range Microwave (ranked highly on Amazon reviews) thru an ad on Craigslist. A sweet looking American-Japanese couple who had purchased a 1920 home in Seattle were letting go of this Microwave, that was installed as part of the renovation work the past owner had done a couple of years ago. Since the new owners wanted a range with a hood, they wanted to dispose off this Microwave.. so I bought it from them for $100. That’s a savings of $250 right there.
  4. Installation of a pull out trash bin. Since years I have been training myself and (trying to train!)  my husband to throw the trash in a timely and a clean manner. While technology has tried to be as helpful as possible, us lazy humans have given it more challenges to solve. So my “trash” problem was that: I/we (all residents of the home become lazy by induction :)) found it too much work to use a step-on Trash bin-one that opens up its top door when you step on a lever that connects it the door opening.  The door opens and closes slowly and makes a clanging sound which is not fun to hear again and again. So I decided to experiment with a trash bin that is attached to the inside of a  door which can be opened and closed by a horizontal pull/push of the door. It seemed to be  a great idea (in fact this idea is quite the fad these days) and naturally I wanted the ease of it. The next best idea would be a voice controlled trash-door opening mechanism where one could just yell “trash open” and the trash door would open on its own. But we are willing to patiently wait for technology to catch up and deliver us this next big thing 😉
  5. Double kitchen sink, cast iron based. Cast Iron sinks last long, look good are sturdy and very durable. And double sinks are better because then you have two separate spaces- one for dirty dishes in and the other for cleaning them. And they are expensive (new one can cost upwards of $800). But I got one second hand for $45 at Seconduse.com-the awesome recycling store. It has a small scratch in the inside and that is its only problem. But I can live with it very happily, so in it came to my home 🙂
  6. Pantry cabinet: Believe it or not, having a pantry in your kitchen is considered a great luxury, as opposed to having just a bottom and a top cabinet, maybe the “real value” lies in the empty space between them.. hmmm. And with a 15″ wide pantry that I got as part of the cabinets I got off Craigslist, I got really lucky. It fits so perfectly and looks so pretty.. AND it has pull out shelves! What more could a working-woman-too-busy-to-use-her-kitchen-pantry want? 😛
  7. Painting the ceiling white to give the illusion of more space and installing track lights to give it a nice and bright, modern look.
  8. Painting the cabinets all the same color, because right now they are a mix of four different colors: white, maple, birch and dark chocolate. I have been warned that it may not be possible to paint the Ikea laminate cabinets at all. But this video gives me hope. This is really the biggest flag in this whole project.
  9. Adding backsplash- I have decided on a cool brick backsplash. Check it out here: http://www.installbrickweb.com/

With all of the above changes, I believe the kitchen will look very attractive. Real Estate 101 says that kitchens sell homes. I obviously learnt my classes well and maximized the feature-richness of my small kitchen! 🙂

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Bye Bye old Kitchen cabinets

To see the old cabinets, view the slideshow or click on an image below to enter the gallery.

With a new home comes the opportunity to “upgrade” some features- the kitchen normally gets top priority. So I decided to take off the old 1980 style cabinet and exchange them for a newer style.

Saying bye to the old cabinets was hard…not really!
They went to a garage in Marysville and the buyer (a smart war veteran) wanted to paint them red.. old cabinets will look exciting in new bold colors.  He even emailed me a picture of them and they do look snazzy!

Bye bye old cabinets. You served the home well and a heartiest thank you to you for that. May you be happy in your new fun colors in your new abode 🙂

Psst.. Here is what the ad read on my favorite recycling website: craigslist.com

Switching out my kitchen cabinets as part of kitchen remodel. These are sturdy and decent looking cabinets that can be stained/painted a different color to suit your needs. The material is not very heavy and can be easily moved and hung. Good for a starter home.  My contractor will be taking these down in a few days and so they will be available for pick up very soon.  Here are the measurements.  Upper cabinets: 27×30 (two), 12×30, 30×24, 18×30 Base cabinets: 30×30(two), 9×30, 12×30, 18×30

I got three replies in two days 🙂

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