Clippings by shkish

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Aqua & White Kitchen, moved in!

posted by: shkish on 06.25.2012 at 01:34 pm in Kitchens Forum

I've been meaning to do this for a while, but with moving in, settling in and raising a baby and a 4 year old, it just got put on the back burner!

Our new home is finally complete! Here is our kitchen. Now, it's not perfect for everyone, but it suits me just fine :) We took our past experiences with what we've lived with in the last 3 homes and married with what I thought I wanted from gleaning through GW and magazines (and kitchen standards from NKBA). Some of it works exactly like I hoped, other things I'm still warming up to.

For budget reasons, I did an extensive amount of leg work to get everything I wanted! By searching online and locally for the best deals, coupons, free shipping, etc. I got almost everything to stay reasonably at our budget. I did have to let go of 2 major items, but they can be added later. First, the backsplash, a relatively do-able thing to add ourselves. (I originally wanted Oceanside Glass Tile's 1x2 rectangular shaped stained glass tile in iridescent white.) Second was the built-in china cabinet/buffet/bar in dining area. The niche is there waiting and for now our old beat-up vintage cabinet lives there... not what i'd envisioned, but working enough for now. And as it turns out, I've decided it's a good thing that it will be added later as I want to totally redesign the unit and get it priced by a local custom cabinet maker.

Paint: (all SW brand paint but colors are below)
walls in Kitchen - SW Sea Salt SW6204
walls in all other public areas - BM Natural Wicker OC-1
all trim - BM White Dove OC-17

Floors:
4" Red Oak with a mix of 3 parts Natural & 1 part Antique Brown stains (sorry don't know company name). Floor guy also tinted one of the top coats a bit to make finish a tad bit darker, so that formula is only partially correct.

Cabinets:
Cheaha Cabinets, painted Pinhoti door style in company's standard "Pure White" throughout home except on kitchen Island which is SW Rainwashed SW6211

Countertops:
3cm Cararra marble, honed, eased edge

Hardware:
knobs - Martha Stewart Living @ Home Depot 1 1/4" polished nickel "Finial Knobs"
Pulls - Martha Stewart Living @ Home Depot "3.75" Country pull" in polished nickel
pull-out trash bin - rev-a-shelf
interior doors - "Commonwealth" levers by Kwikset in Iron Black

Appliances:
Range - LG Studio 30" electric LSE3092ST
hood - Broan EW58 (with chimney extension FXNE58SS)
Microwave - LG LMV1813ST
Frige - LG LFX31925ST
Dishwasher - LDF6920ST
undermount Sink, main - Ticor S1205
undermount Sink, island - Ticor S815
faucet, main - Delta Leland in Chrome 978-DST
faucet, island - Delta Leland bar/prep in Chrome 9978-DST
soap dispenser @ main sink - target blue glass
garbage disposals @ each sink
air switch with countertop buttons @ each sink - ordered through Galaxy Tool Supply

Lights:
School house pendants & semi-flush mount in Pewter by Savoy House through LightingDirect.com
4" mini recessed cans
Mariestad 6 light chandelier by Ballard Design
under cabinet LED dim-able lights - InspiredLED.com (custom kit, AWESOME customer service)

Random:
the "Tiny Kitchen" - designed by me, built by my dad, delivered by Santa
Child's easel - Land of Nod, honey finish
thru-wall dog door - trimmed out by our contractor to match our home, energy efficient locking unit by Freedom Pet Pass. (I highly recommend them!)

Also, we will be adding stools when we can afford them. Some of our images show two black stools, we borrowed those for a home pilgrimage we participated in. I have since decided that I definitely want white stools! What I'm holding out for is Crate and Barrel's "Vienna" stool or Design Within Reach's "Era Counter Stool" each in white.

That's all I can think of now, but I'm sure there will be more questions and I'm happy to answer!

FYI these 1st 3 pictures are fancy pics taken and digitally stitched by my husband with the computer (no clue how, that's his deal). Those pics were taken right before we had an open house on the local Spring Pilgrimage. The last 3 pics are from today, very much lived in and REAL. So it's why you see the booster seats, my daughter's easel, art supplies, the tiny kitchen, dog food and the dog door open...

kitchen

kitchen with view of living beyond

kitchen (dining to right)

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clipped on: 06.26.2012 at 06:22 pm    last updated on: 06.26.2012 at 06:22 pm

RE: Please help! Which of these sealers is best for Danby marble? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: cat_mom on 01.23.2012 at 01:53 pm in Kitchens Forum

I like the STT SB sealer (Deluxe). We used it on travertine and White Thassos (and our grout). It was very easy to apply and had extremely minimal odor. I know rococogurl liked the Akemi Nano for her marble.

If you call STT and speak with Stephen (company owner and developer of the products), he is a fountain of info and very helpful. There are new application instructions (since we'd last used this sealer) that were not on the can when I ordered more of the SB Deluxe last fall, and Stephen took the time to explain them to me. Basically, depending on how porous your material is, you just apply the sealer until the surface glistens, and then let it sit for 3-8 hrs until the stone appears to be mostly dry (maybe a few wet spots here and there, but nothing too much). Then buff the stone (back and forth a few times with a cloth) and that's it. If you need to apply another coat, I think you just do the same thing again (we didn't need to, as our new travertine tile throughout our downstairs is apparently not overly porous).

I really, really liked how easy the stuff is to use (I didn't like the Porous Plus, if that's the stronger of the two-- a bit of a PITA to buff off the excess), and really appreciated the low-odor.

So far the White Thassos in the bathrooms is holding up very well, and I imagine our new travertine floors also will.

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http://www.sttsealers.com/stone-sealers/item/187-deluxe-penetrating-sealer
clipped on: 02.15.2012 at 06:52 pm    last updated on: 02.15.2012 at 06:52 pm

RE: Hiring An Architect (Follow-Up #40)

posted by: shkish on 01.26.2012 at 07:17 pm in Building a Home Forum

MacyPA,
I'm sorry you have had such a bad experience with an architect (if he even is one). I am a licensed architect and hearing how he has treated you is disappointing and unprofessional. Regardless of his profession, it sounds like he has poor social skills and bad business sense! Unfortunately with all things in life, you have good, bad, indifferent, lazy, etc people no matter what their trade is.

First off, it is YOUR house, why in the world would you continue to employe ANYONE who doesn't listen and then design what YOU want!?! The only caveat to this is if you purposely hire a huge name designer for their specific brand of architecture (ie Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Ghery or A. Hayes Town). So, if you are fighting to get YOUR wants for YOUR house, then this guy is NOT for you. Do NOT waste any more of your time and money!

Secondly, his fee does sound low... so it may be that he's giving you a discount b/c he's in with the contractor and development. Or he's just cheap and thus it may be a "you get what you pay for" scenario. But at least you are only paid up through schematics.

Personally, I would take what you have paid for and find another architect. Take the time to really interview candidates. (It's a tough economy, architects in the Southeast are pretty hungry for work.) Your house design by nature is very personal, so you really need to 'click' with your architect. You need to feel comfortable that the design professional will take everything you say seriously and really listen to your program requirements, issues and concerns. With that, one hopes the architect can provide solutions that work for you, wether you conceived of them or not. So much of what we architects do is synthesize information. So obviously, listening is quite important.

On the topic of CAD drawing... It is hard for me to believe that there are [profitable] architects practicing today that don't use the computer. I love hand drafting, BUT it is wildly inefficient & impractical these days for most every kind of architect. (And it sounds like this guy could benefit from the preciseness the computer affords.)

In the end, I'm happy you actually considered an architect. It's encouraging to hear that people still find us valid in the residential sector. Unfortunately this experience my have turned you off... BUT please know a good architect can be a very worthwhile investment. You are spending a LOT of money, time and energy on your new home, why shouldn't it be designed how YOU want and need? An architect should be YOUR advocate (not the builders or developers). The architect should have YOUR best interests in the forefront of making the design work for you, on your lot and in your budget.

Feel free to email me, I'm happy to answer questions. Depending on where you live, I am happy to offer recommendations for architects I know around the USA.

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clipped on: 01.26.2012 at 07:19 pm    last updated on: 01.26.2012 at 07:19 pm

RE: Marble poultice (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: mnhockeymom on 05.01.2008 at 07:14 am in Kitchens Forum

I cut and pasted some info into a Word doc that I saw on this forum - I can't give specific credit to anyone but here it is:

"Here's a poultice formula for coffee:
Make a solution of 20-30% peroxide (available at beauty supple places...wear gloves Mine is called Salon Care 30Extra Lift Volume Creme. Bought it at Sally's Beauty Supply Store.) and a few drops of ammonia. Then mix in some sort of WHITE "material;" e.g., paper towel, napkin, tissue. Make only enough to cover the stain. It should be paste-like (consistency of peanut butter).
Wet the stained area with distilled water. Pre-wetting fills the pores of the stone with water isolating the stain and accelerating the removal by the chemical.
Apply the poultice to the stain being careful not to spill any on the non stained areas. Apply approximately 1/4-inch thick over-lapping the stain area by about one inch.
Cover the poultice with plastic (food wrap works great). Tape the plastic down to seal the edges. It also helps to poke several small holes in the plastic so that the powder will dry out. Failure to do this may result in the poultice staying wet.
Allow the poultice to dry thoroughly. This is a very important step. The drying of the poultice is what pulls the stain from the stone into the poultice material. If the poultice is not allowed to dry, the stain may not be removed.
Drying usually takes from 24 to 48 hours.
Remove the poultice from the stain. Rinse with distilled water and buff dry with a soft cloth. If the stain is not removed, apply the poultice again. It may take up to five applications for difficult stains.

Here's some additional tips!
For the "white stuff" you are going to use for your poultice powder base ... get some diatomaceous earth ("DE"). You can get this really CHEAP at a pool supply store or free if you know someone with a pool that uses it. It is used in some pool filtering equipment. I went to the pool supply store and they gave me some since all I wanted was a small amount.
Good info on stain removal:
From www.stone-panels.com/details/stains.doc
Iron (rust) - Poultice with Oxalic Acid + Powder + Water. May also try a product called Iron-Out (available at hardware stores). Both mixtures may etch polished marble, so re-polishing will be necessary.
Ink - Poultice with Mineral Spirits or Methylene Chloride +Powder.
Oil - Poultice with Ammonia+ Powder Methylene Chloride can also be used on tough oil stains.
Coffee, Tea & Food - Poultice with 20 percent Hydrogen Peroxide + Powder.
Copper - Poultice with Ammonium Chloride + Powder
Paint (water-based) - poultice with a commercial paint remover + Powder
Paint (oil) - Poultice with Mineral Spirits + Powder. Deep stains may require Methylene Chloride.
HTH
MaryT"

Hope that helps!! Good Luck!!

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clipped on: 01.26.2012 at 03:37 pm    last updated on: 01.26.2012 at 03:37 pm

Container Soils - Water Movement & Retention XIII

posted by: tapla on 03.17.2011 at 04:06 pm in Container Gardening Forum

I first posted this thread back in March of '05. Twelve times it has reached the maximum number of posts GW allows to a single thread, which is much more attention than I ever imagined it would garner. I have reposted it, in no small part because it has been great fun, and a wonderful catalyst in the forging of new friendships and in increasing my list of acquaintances with similar growing interests. The forum and email exchanges that stem so often from the subject are, in themselves, enough to make me hope the subject continues to pique interest, and the exchanges provide helpful information. Most of the motivation for posting this thread another time comes from the reinforcement of hundreds of participants over the years that the idea some of the information provided in good-spirited collective exchange has made a significant difference in the quality of their growing experience.

I'll provide links to some of the more recent of the previous dozen threads and nearly 1,800 posts at the end of what I have written - just in case you have interest in reviewing them. Thank you for taking the time to examine this topic - I hope that any/all who read it take at least something interesting and helpful from it. I know it's long; my hope is that you find it worth the read.

Container Soils - Water Movement and Retention

A Discussion About Soils

As container gardeners, our first priority should be to ensure the soils we use are adequately aerated for the life of the planting, or in the case of perennial material (trees, shrubs, garden perennials), from repot to repot. Soil aeration/drainage is the most important consideration in any container planting. Soils are the foundation that all container plantings are built on, and aeration is the very cornerstone of that foundation. Since aeration and drainage are inversely linked to soil particle size, it makes good sense to try to find and use soils or primary components with particles larger than peat/compost/coir. Durability and stability of soil components so they contribute to the retention of soil structure for extended periods is also extremely important. Pine and some other types of conifer bark fit the bill nicely, but I'll talk more about various components later.

What I will write also hits pretty hard against the futility in using a drainage layer of coarse materials in attempt to improve drainage. It just doesn't work. All it does is reduce the total volume of soil available for root colonization. A wick can be employed to remove water from the saturated layer of soil at the container bottom, but a drainage layer is not effective. A wick can be made to work in reverse of the self-watering pots widely being discussed on this forum now.

Since there are many questions about soils appropriate for use in containers, I'll post basic mix recipes later, in case any would like to try the soil. It will follow the Water Movement information.

Consider this if you will:

Container soils are all about structure, and particle size plays the primary role in determining whether a soil is suited or unsuited to the application. Soil fills only a few needs in container culture. Among them are: Anchorage - a place for roots to extend, securing the plant and preventing it from toppling. Nutrient Retention - it must retain a nutrient supply in available form sufficient to sustain plant systems. Gas Exchange - it must be amply porous to allow air to move through the root system and gasses that are the by-product of decomposition to escape. Water - it must retain water enough in liquid and/or vapor form to sustain plants between waterings. Air - it must contain a volume of air sufficient to ensure that root function/metabolism/growth is not impaired. This is extremely important and the primary reason that heavy, water-retentive soils are so limiting in their affect. Most plants can be grown without soil as long as we can provide air, nutrients, and water, (witness hydroponics). Here, I will concentrate primarily on the movement and retention of water in container soil(s).

There are two forces that cause water to move through soil - one is gravity, the other capillary action. Gravity needs little explanation, but for this writing I would like to note: Gravitational flow potential (GFP) is greater for water at the top of the container than it is for water at the bottom. I'll return to that later.

Capillarity is a function of the natural forces of adhesion and cohesion. Adhesion is water's tendency to stick to solid objects like soil particles and the sides of the pot. Cohesion is the tendency for water to stick to itself. Cohesion is why we often find water in droplet form - because cohesion is at times stronger than adhesion; in other words, water's bond to itself can be stronger than the bond to the object it might be in contact with; cohesion is what makes water form drops. Capillary action is in evidence when we dip a paper towel in water. The water will soak into the towel and rise several inches above the surface of the water. It will not drain back into the source, and it will stop rising when the GFP equals the capillary attraction of the fibers in the paper.

There will be a naturally occurring "perched water table" (PWT) in containers when soil particulate size is under about .100 (just under 1/8) inch. Perched water is water that occupies a layer of soil at the bottom of containers or above coarse drainage layers that tends to remain saturated & will not drain from the portion of the pot it occupies. It can evaporate or be used by the plant, but physical forces will not allow it to drain. It is there because the capillary pull of the soil at some point will surpass the GFP; therefore, the water does not drain, it is said to be 'perched'. The smaller the size of the particles in a soil, the greater the height of the PWT. Perched water can be tightly held in heavy (comprised of small particles) soils where it perches (think of a bird on a perch) just above the container bottom where it will not drain; or, it can perch in a layer of heavy soil on top of a coarse drainage layer, where it will not drain.

Imagine that we have five cylinders of varying heights, shapes, and diameters, each with drain holes. If we fill them all with the same soil mix, then saturate the soil, the PWT will be exactly the same height in each container. This saturated area of the container is where roots initially seldom penetrate & where root problems frequently begin due to a lack of aeration and the production of noxious gasses. Water and nutrient uptake are also compromised by lack of air in the root zone. Keeping in mind the fact that the PWT height is dependent on soil particle size and has nothing to do with height or shape of the container, we can draw the conclusion that: If using a soil that supports perched water, tall growing containers will always have a higher percentage of unsaturated soil than squat containers when using the same soil mix. The reason: The level of the PWT will be the same in each container, with the taller container providing more usable, air holding soil above the PWT. From this, we could make a good case that taller containers are easier to grow in.

A given volume of large soil particles has less overall surface area when compared to the same volume of small particles and therefore less overall adhesive attraction to water. So, in soils with large particles, GFP more readily overcomes capillary attraction. They simply drain better and hold more air. We all know this, but the reason, often unclear, is that the height of the PWT is lower in coarse soils than in fine soils. The key to good drainage is size and uniformity of soil particles. Mixing large particles with small is often very ineffective because the smaller particles fit between the large, increasing surface area which increases the capillary attraction and thus the water holding potential. An illustrative question: How much perlite do we need to add to pudding to make it drain well?

I already stated I hold as true that the grower's soil choice when establishing a planting for the long term is the most important decision he/she will make. There is no question that the roots are the heart of the plant, and plant vitality is inextricably linked in a hard lock-up with root vitality. In order to get the best from your plants, you absolutely must have happy roots.

If you start with a water-retentive medium, you cannot improve it's aeration or drainage characteristics by adding larger particulates. Sand, perlite, Turface, calcined DE ...... none of them will work. To visualize why sand and perlite can't change drainage/aeration, think of how well a pot full of BBs would drain (perlite), then think of how poorly a pot full of pudding would drain (bagged soil). Even mixing the pudding and perlite/BBs together 1:1 in a third pot yields a mix that retains the drainage characteristics and PWT height of the pudding. It's only after the perlite become the largest fraction of the mix (60-75%) that drainage & PWT height begins to improve. At that point, you're growing in perlite amended with a little potting soil.


You cannot add coarse material to fine material and improve drainage or the ht of the PWT. Use the same example as above & replace the pudding with play sand or peat moss or a peat-based potting soil - same results. The benefit in adding perlite to heavy soils doesn't come from the fact that they drain better. The fine peat or pudding particles simply 'fill in' around the perlite, so drainage & the ht of the PWT remains the same. All perlite does in heavy soils is occupy space that would otherwise be full of water. Perlite simply reduces the amount of water a soil is capable of holding because it is not internally porous. IOW - all it does is take up space. That can be a considerable benefit, but it makes more sense to approach the problem from an angle that also allows us to increase the aeration AND durability of the soil. That is where Pine bark comes in, and I will get to that soon.


If you want to profit from a soil that offers superior drainage and aeration, you need to start with an ingredient as the basis for your soils that already HAVE those properties, by ensuring that the soil is primarily comprised of particles much larger than those in peat/compost/coir.sand/topsoil, which is why the recipes I suggest as starting points all direct readers to START with the foremost fraction of the soil being large particles, to ensure excellent aeration. From there, if you choose, you can add an appropriate volume of finer particles to increase water retention. You do not have that option with a soil that is already extremely water-retentive right out of the bag.

I fully understand that many are happy with the results they get when using commercially prepared soils, and I'm not trying to get anyone to change anything. My intent is to make sure that those who are having trouble with issues related to soil, understand why the issues occur, that there are options, and what they are.

We have seen that adding a coarse drainage layer at the container bottom does not improve drainage. It does though, reduce the volume of soil required to fill a container, making the container lighter. When we employ a drainage layer in an attempt to improve drainage, what we are actually doing is moving the level of the PWT higher in the pot. This simply reduces the volume of soil available for roots to colonize. Containers with uniform soil particle size from top of container to bottom will yield better and more uniform drainage and have a lower PWT than containers using the same soil with added drainage layers.

The coarser the drainage layer, the more detrimental to drainage it is because water is more (for lack of a better scientific word) reluctant to make the downward transition because the capillary pull of the soil above the drainage layer is stronger than the GFP. The reason for this is there is far more surface area on soil particles for water to be attracted to in the soil above the drainage layer than there is in the drainage layer, so the water perches. I know this goes against what most have thought to be true, but the principle is scientifically sound, and experiments have shown it as so. Many nurserymen employ the pot-in-pot or the pot-in-trench method of growing to capitalize on the science.

If you discover you need to increase drainage, you can simply insert an absorbent wick into a drainage hole & allow it to extend from the saturated soil in the container to a few inches below the bottom of the pot, or allow it to contact soil below the container where the earth acts as a giant wick and will absorb all or most of the perched water in the container, in most cases. Eliminating the PWT has much the same effect as providing your plants much more soil to grow in, as well as allowing more, much needed air in the root zone.

In simple terms: Plants that expire because of drainage problems either die of thirst because the roots have rotted and can no longer take up water, or they suffer/die because there is insufficient air at the root zone to insure normal root function, so water/nutrient uptake and root metabolism become seriously impaired.

To confirm the existence of the PWT and how effective a wick is at removing it, try this experiment: Fill a soft drink cup nearly full of garden soil. Add enough water to fill to the top, being sure all soil is saturated. Punch a drain hole in the bottom of the cup and allow the water to drain. When drainage has stopped, insert a wick into the drain hole . Take note of how much additional water drains. Even touching the soil with a toothpick through the drain hole will cause substantial additional water to drain. The water that drains is water that occupied the PWT. A greatly simplified explanation of what occurs is: The wick or toothpick "fools" the water into thinking the pot is deeper than it is, so water begins to move downward seeking the "new" bottom of the pot, pulling the rest of the water in the PWT along with it. If there is interest, there are other simple and interesting experiments you can perform to confirm the existence of a PWT in container soils. I can expand later in the thread.

I always remain cognizant of these physical principles whenever I build a soil. I have not used a commercially prepared soil in many years, preferring to build a soil or amend one of my 2 basic mixes to suit individual plantings. I keep many ingredients at the ready for building soils, but the basic building process usually starts with conifer bark and perlite. Sphagnum peat plays a secondary role in my container soils because it breaks down too quickly to suit me, and when it does, it impedes drainage and reduces aeration. Size matters. Partially composted conifer bark fines (pine is easiest to find and least expensive) works best in the following recipes, followed by uncomposted bark in the <3/8" range.

Bark fines of pine, fir or hemlock, are excellent as the primary component of your soils. The lignin contained in bark keeps it rigid and the rigidity provides air-holding pockets in the root zone far longer than peat or compost mixes that too quickly break down to a soup-like consistency. Conifer bark also contains suberin, a lipid sometimes referred to as nature's preservative. Suberin, more scarce as a presence in sapwood products and hardwood bark, dramatically slows the decomposition of conifer bark-based soils. It contains highly varied hydrocarbon chains and the microorganisms that turn peat to soup have great difficulty cleaving these chains - it retains its structure.

Note that there is no sand or compost in the soils I use. Sand, as most of you think of it, can improve drainage in some cases, but it reduces aeration by filling valuable macro-pores in soils. Unless sand particle size is fairly uniform and/or larger than about BB size, I leave it out of soils. Compost is too fine and unstable for me to consider using in soils in any significant volume as well. The small amount of micro-nutrients it supplies can easily be delivered by one or more of a number of chemical or organic sources that do not detract from drainage/aeration.

My Basic Soils ....

5 parts pine bark fines (partially composted fines are best)
1 part sphagnum peat (not reed or sedge peat please)
1-2 parts perlite
garden lime (or gypsum in some cases)
controlled release fertilizer (if preferred)

Big batch:
2-3 cu ft pine bark fines
5 gallons peat
5 gallons perlite
2 cups dolomitic (garden) lime (or gypsum in some cases)
2 cups CRF (if preferred)

Small batch:
3 gallons pine bark
1/2 gallon peat
1/2 gallon perlite
4 tbsp lime (or gypsum in some cases)
1/4 cup CRF (if preferred)

I have seen advice that some highly organic (practically speaking - almost all container soils are highly organic) container soils are productive for up to 5 years or more. I disagree and will explain why if there is interest. Even if you were to substitute fir bark for pine bark in this recipe (and this recipe will long outlast any peat based soil) you should only expect a maximum of two to three years life before a repot is in order. Usually perennials, including trees (they're perennials too) should be repotted more frequently to insure they can grow at as close to their genetic potential within the limits of other cultural factors as possible. If a soil is desired that will retain structure for long periods, we need to look more to inorganic components. Some examples are crushed granite, fine stone, VERY coarse sand (see above - usually no smaller than BB size in containers, please), Haydite, lava rock (pumice), Turface, calcined DE, and others.

For long term (especially woody) plantings and houseplants, I use a superb soil that is extremely durable and structurally sound. The basic mix is equal parts of pine bark, Turface, and crushed granite.

1 part uncomposted screened pine or fir bark (1/8-1/4")
1 part screened Turface
1 part crushed Gran-I-Grit (grower size) or #2 cherrystone
1 Tbsp gypsum per gallon of soil
CRF (if desired)

I use 1/8 -1/4 tsp Epsom salts (MgSO4) per gallon of fertilizer solution when I fertilize if the fertilizer does not contain Mg (check your fertilizer - if it is soluble, it is probable it does not contain Ca or Mg. If I am using my currently favored fertilizer (I use it on everything), Dyna-Gro's Foliage-Pro in the 9-3-6 formulation, and I don't use gypsum or Epsom salts in the fertilizer solution.

If there is interest, you'll find some of the more recent continuations of the thread at the links below:

Post XII
Post XI
Post X
Post IX
Post VIII
Post VII

If you feel you were benefited by having read this offering, you might also find this thread about Fertilizing Containerized Plants helpful, as well.

If you do find yourself using soils you feel are too water-retentive, You'll find some Help Dealing with Water-retentive Soils by following this embedded link.

If you happen to be at all curious about How Plant Gowth is Limited, just click the embedded link.


As always - best luck. Good growing!! Let me know if you think there is anything I might be able to help you with.

Al

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clipped on: 01.22.2012 at 05:29 pm    last updated on: 01.22.2012 at 05:29 pm

Not-nearly-done-but-since-you-asked pics

posted by: breezygirl on 01.13.2012 at 08:27 pm in Kitchens Forum

Thanks to everyone who keeps asking me for new photos of the kitchen! We still have miles to go, as you can see.

Not done:
light fixtures
tile
knobs on uppers
pantry door handle
drywall repair around outlets
paint
stools
kitchen table, banquette, chairs
DR chandy
DR chairs

Excuse any dirt or mess you see in the backgrounds!

Details

Perimeter: Carrara marble, honed 4cm
Island: Black Walnut
Custom Cabinets: Cornerstone Cabinetry, painted BM Simply White
Hardware: Restoration Hardware Aubrey pulls, 4', 6' and 8'
Rangetop: 36' 6 burner Capital Culinarian
Hood: Rangecraft, Viser model
Fridge: KA built-in
MW: Sharp 24' drawer
Sinks: Blanco silgranit in metallic gray
Faucets: Hansgrohe high-arc

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From the Dining Room.
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Closeup of beverage serving area. (Wow, that's a lot of booze. We're really not alcoholics!) We entertain a lot so I plan to set up beverages, which end up to mostly non-alocholic, here. I rotated this in photobucket, but it shows here the other direction.

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I bought these pendants on sale and plan to do a DIY mercury glass technique on them to see if I can cut the glare but not make them look cheap. If they don't work, then I'm not out much and will continue the hunt.

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I'll put a link to my photobucket album with more pics. My flickr account was full so the album will only have pics since we moved back in.

Oh, and I said I'd post some pics of the new cats, too. That's next!

Here is a link that might be useful: more pics

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clipped on: 01.19.2012 at 06:15 pm    last updated on: 01.19.2012 at 06:15 pm

RE: Inspired LED - anyone use this under-cab lighting? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: pricepal on 03.25.2011 at 08:01 am in Kitchens Forum

Hi,
Just finished installing mine. The guy was great to work with.

My situation was a little different as I hard wired from a wall dimmer to a transformer out through the walls. These lights are very thin, weigh next to nothing and are easy to install.

They can daisy chain from one power supply up to 20 lights I believe. I have the deluxe lights I think it is 21 bulbs per fixture and they are amazingly bright. I went with the warm color led's instead of the cool.

The nice thing about it, since you can run virtually everything from one plug in power supply, is you can buy the lights you can afford now, and the rest later. If you call them direct, he can sell you only exactly what you need, without extra cables etc. Figure out your cable spacing in advance so you do not wind up with cables too short, long etc.

I would recommend a inline dimmer for ambiance in the evenings.

I was hesitant as the price was reasonable even though I spent well over $400.00 for 23 lights cables and transformer, but I have had no problems YET and they have been in about a month now.

When I had halogens in my old kitchen, they heated up the cabinets and burned out constantly, which LED's are supposed to last a very long time.

Even if you could buy the halogens cheaper, a years worth of bulbs would wipe out any savings on the initial purchase.

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clipped on: 01.01.2012 at 01:08 pm    last updated on: 01.01.2012 at 01:08 pm

RE: Kitchen Islands - Lets See Your Pics (Follow-Up #110)

posted by: smarge on 06.23.2009 at 11:27 am in Kitchens Forum

Here's a picture of my island, which I spent a LOT of time planning for. I'll try to show everything that is stashed in it in the following pics. BTW, DEEP DRAWERS ARE KEY!!!

Kitchen in the morning

Here's a pic showing my pull-out trash/recycling, my warming drawer (much prefer it here rather than under my wall oven!) and other storage drawers. Note the tall, narrow door which I had made deeper than it looks so it can store all my cutting boards, including the one we use to carve a turkey! It's next to the garbage pull-out. There is a small shelf on top for small cutting boards, and the larger ones fit on the bottom. The bottom section is about 5 inches deeper than it appears to be. You can sort of see what I'm talking about in the next picture showing the inside of the cabinets where the stools go.

multiple storage in island

Here's a pic showing storage space for rarely used items in cabinets behind stool area.

storage for rarely used items

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clipped on: 12.09.2011 at 03:19 am    last updated on: 12.09.2011 at 03:19 am

99% Finished Kitchen--creamy white w/soapstone

posted by: jbrodie on 03.01.2009 at 06:59 pm in Kitchens Forum

Finally! Our kitchen is finished! I never thought the day would come, and boy am I enjoying it. I owe so much to this forum. I can't tell you how much you all helped me. Thank you!!! I hope I can help others in return.

Hope I'm not putting too many pictures!

Photobucket

Photobucket

Island
Photobucket
Photobucket

Photobucket

soap stone

Quick description (feel free to contact me if you have questions)
-Soapstone: Julia
-Cabinets: Custom, inset/flush shaker style with single bead (waiting to see if we get some issues resolved before I recommend the cabinet maker)
-Bookcase and desk tops: walnut
-Sharp microwave oven drawer (love it!)
-GE fridge
-Shaw 30 inch apron sink
-Wolf range top
-Thermador double ovens
-Vent-a-hood hood
-Dal tile
-potfiller: Newport Brass
-hot/cold faucet Newport Brass
-Main faucet: Mico
-Door to garage: one panel painted with chalkboard paint...fun! The kids love this and it's fun to put messages to guests, each other, holiday wishes, etc.
-Pull out baskets (love these...I keep bread in one and potatoes, onions, etc. in the other)
-Wine shelf--love it!
-Bar stools from Sturbridge Yankee Workshop (love these and they were so reasonable!)
-What would I do differently? More than 12 inch overhang on seating area of island (maybe 14-16 inch). And I might skip the bead board in the backs of the bookshelfs and glass cabs.

Happy kitchen designing to all! Thank you again!

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clipped on: 12.09.2011 at 03:13 am    last updated on: 12.09.2011 at 03:13 am

A year in the making. My new kitchen w/pics

posted by: oldhouse1 on 09.11.2011 at 08:50 pm in Kitchens Forum

Our home is a simple 1840 Canadiana. We were living life quite comfortably when we drove by a home we always jokingly said we would buy if it ever went up for sale. Well, there it was, a big for sale sign in the middle of the lawn. Long story short we moved from our 4 bathroom home to one 1/3 the size with one bath that also happened to be off the kitchen. We immediately set out to design a small addition which included a kitchen. That was three years ago. With the exception of the foundation and framing, this has been a complete DIY project. After a year and a month of doing dishes in the bathroom I now have a kitchen. It doesn't have alot of bells and whistles and although we didn't necessarily want a period kitchen we did want one that suited an older home.

Details:

Ikea Tidaholm cupboards, professionally sprayed in Cloud White with alot of customization. Unfortunately, these have since been discontinued.

AEG Electrolux 36" freestanding stove. Bought for less then half price because someone bought it, used it once and returned it because they decided they wanted gas. We don't have gas and recently put in Geo Thermal heating/air conditioning. Wasn't in the budget to bring in propane. Stove was so reasonable that if we decide to do so later we can.

Liebherr 30" freestanding refrigerator. Purchased for half price because it had a dent dent in the bottom half. Bought a new door so it was good as new, until they delivered it and dented the top half. They replaced the door. Neither will be installed until house is complete (just in case).

Ikea farmhouse sink and dishwasher. I'm actually very pleased that it works as well as it does.

Perrin and Rohl Aquatine faucet in polished nickel.

Island and Jam cupboard - Special Order from Camlen Furniture in Quebec. Purchased with hand planed top in pine and may or not replace with marble. Will live with it for a while.

10" random length pine floors. All hand finished and dinged and finshed with Waterlox. This alone took us several weeks. We love the finish.

Honed Absolute Black granite. Bought the kitchen at Ikea's 20% off sale. Rather then cash back you get Ikea gift certificates. Used these and another $1300.

Faber Inca Pro hood

Light fixture- Sescolite, Burlington, Ontario

Finished kitchen, $19 thousand including all the small stuff.

I would like to thank the GW community. I found you when most decisions had already been made but early enough to make some positive changes based on the vast amount of information shared on this site. I didn't ask for much advise but I can assure you that I read everything written on the subjects that I researched on this site and then some. I do not have the incredible knowledge that so many of you do who share so willingly to those who ask but have from time to time tried to help out on the very few subjects I know a little about. I have taken much more than I have been able to give. I am grateful to have had a place that I could frequent with people who share the same desire to have a kitchen of their dreams no matter their budget. And to those who think their day will never come, keep the faith. I never thought that I would get here. After seeing so many unbelievable kitchens, big and small, elaborate and understated, new and updated thanks for looking at mine.







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clipped on: 12.08.2011 at 06:30 pm    last updated on: 12.08.2011 at 06:30 pm

RE: subway tile pattern (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: mamadadapaige on 12.18.2008 at 05:29 pm in Kitchens Forum

I did 2x6 subway with herringbone behind the stove (which included a 1/2" x 6" stick liner). here is a pic:

Photobucket

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clipped on: 12.08.2011 at 06:24 pm    last updated on: 12.08.2011 at 06:24 pm

RE: Butter stain?? on Carrara marble (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: srosen on 12.03.2011 at 01:57 pm in Kitchens Forum

White Carrara can be quite porous-The bellonzoni storebought poultice is a sodium hypochlorite (bleach) formulation with clay. It works and will not etch marble.
You can make a homemade poultice using 30-40 % hydrogen peroxide and unscented baby powder mixed to a wet peanut butter consistency and placed over the stain(overlap) and covered with plastic overnight. After you pull the plastic dont touch again until the poultice is totally dry. Remove and see wha you get. You can use other methods as well such as acetone,alcohol ,bleach etc. For absorbant material you can use flour,baby powder,diatomaceus earth(used in pool filters) ,paper towels and even bleach. Our favorite is the peroxide. Wouldnt be a bad idea to check your countertop for porousity and apply a good sealer properly.
To check for porousity puddle up a palm sized puddle of water in several areas and leave there for 10 minutes or so then wipe the wate away and see if a darker mark remains. If so it needs to be sealed. Always remember sealers are a temporary means to inhibit staining agents from entering the stone.
Stu Rosen
www.mbstonecare.com
www.stoneshine.com

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clipped on: 12.03.2011 at 08:57 pm    last updated on: 12.03.2011 at 08:57 pm

Love beadboard wallpaper - see my kitchen cabinets

posted by: ds945 on 11.06.2011 at 09:45 am in Kitchens Forum

I really love the look of the beadboard wallpaper. I used it on the ends of my kitchen cabinets (just painted from a honey oak. When painted the foamy feel went away. It is so easy.
Photobucket

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clipped on: 11.08.2011 at 12:30 pm    last updated on: 11.08.2011 at 12:30 pm

Wood Floors (Follow-Up #32)

posted by: pdxgal on 04.09.2008 at 12:18 pm in Kitchens Forum

Amberley - My floor guy said I have red oak floors and he used Minwax's Dark Walnut stain.

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clipped on: 10.24.2011 at 11:28 am    last updated on: 10.24.2011 at 11:28 am

Picture (Follow-Up #24)

posted by: pdxgal on 04.04.2008 at 09:04 am in Kitchens Forum

Sorry....Here is the photo. It's still early and I haven't had my coffee.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

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clipped on: 10.24.2011 at 11:25 am    last updated on: 10.24.2011 at 11:26 am

Finished Finished! Rancher Remodel, dark to light! (tons pix)

posted by: firsthouse_mp on 06.28.2010 at 02:29 pm in Kitchens Forum

We are done, we are moved in.....after 17mos living with my mom and enduring living out of cardboard boxes! Love love love my new kitchen!! Thank you to all of you who deeply inspired me (redroze,elizpiz,rm,theanimala,segbrown,many many more!), and I hope you don't mind that there's a piece of each of your kitchens that I copied because I admired it so much. I learned so much by lurking, reading everything then finally posting.

THINGS WE LOVE:
--Our cabinets were so reasonable and they work beautifully. We LOVE Precision Cabinets! Their install was immaculate and perfect. When we had a glitch with the warming drawer, they fixed it perfectly! While I couldn't afford every "bell & whistle" inside the cabinets, I love them.
--White Princess honed. It's gorgeous and I no longer have the OCD urge to constantly wipe my counters (our old granite was polished). I also love my backsplash done in the same material--I am attracted to visual simplicity so couldn't pick a tile :)
--Cheap dishwasher. Paid $500 and we love it.
--Deep cheap sinks. Our main Ebay sink is awesome($500)! Love the 10" big single bowl. The island sink was cheap too, and is the perfect size, $150.
--White everywhere and one big room. Not for everyone, but my DH and I love the big open light-filled room. Far cry from the dark rancher that it was. We tore down two walls and raised the ceiling.
--The soapstone buffet. It was a remnant piece and I love that it doesn't match the rest of the kitchen. Sets it apart and boy does the texture feel nice!
--The papertowel niche. Not important, but I like that the towels are off my counter and totally accessible.
--The two hidden cabinets in the island near the stools. All my Xmas dishes, Thanksgiving platters and everything fit in here!

THINGS WE WOULDN'T DO AGAIN:
--The Vent Hood: Modernaire was a NIGHTMARE to deal with here in the NorCal area. You have to go through a distributor who will upcharge you $2,000 to order a hood. Modernaire won't sell directly to anyone who is in the area of one of their distributors. The rep here was a complete idiot, ripped me off and in the end didn't deliver what I had ordered. I had to then hire someone else to fix the goofs. Not worth it!

--Order our range through AJ Madison. Total pain to get this stove delivered. The rest of our appliances came without a hitch but the delivery of the range was a disaster. They refused to deliver it until we had a concrete pathway, but our city had some issues with solid pathways and the runoff, etc. Had 4 delivery dates and they turned around each time and refused to bring it in the house. In the end I would have purchased this through our local store (there was no discount on this by buying on internet, unlike the other appliances).

THINGS WE STILL NEED TO DO:
--Help me pick kitchen table chairs! Those pictured are folding chairs for holidays. Our old ones were falling apart, so we ditched them in the move. What should I put there?
--Shades ordered and we are waiting for them to come and be hung.
--The stools (CB2 Vapor) are too tall and we need to have the legs cut down. They only come in 30" or 24" and one is too tall and the other is too short. Sigh.

THE DETAILS:
CabinetryPrecision Cabinets, Brentwood, CA; painted in stock color which matches Simply White
WallsBM Simply White
Kitchen CountersWhite Princess granite, from DaVinci Marble & Stone in San Carlos, CA, with 2.25" mitred square edge
Buffet CounterBrazilian Black soapstone from Texeira, SF, with no edge finish
Door and Drawer PullsTop Knobs, Square Pulls, Polished Chrome; ordered off the internet
Main SinkEbay purchase 36" SS Farmhouse w/apron front , single bowl, flushmount
Island SinkDawn 19X17 single bowl, undermount
Main FaucetBlanco Meridien Semi-Professional in Brushed
Island FaucetSantec Penza pull out in Brushed
RefrigeratorElectrolux WaveTouch; ordered off Homeeverything.com
DishwasherWhirlpool Gold Quiet Partner III; ordered from AJ Madison
Microwave DrawerSharp 24"; ordered from AJ Madison
RangeViking Range w/6 burners and griddle; ordered from AJ Madison
Hood Modernaire custom hood
Trash CompactorGE Profile in SS; ordered from AJ Madison
Warming DrawerKitchenaid Architect Series II; ordered off Homeeverything.com; panel from cabinet co.
BacksplashWhite Princess granite
WindowsSemco
Flooring-DuChateau pre-engineered floors in Lugano
Big Slider DoorCustom made 10 bypass doors by McFarland Doors, w/custom screen
Island PendantsHudson Valley Pelham 13" ordered from Butler Lighting
Breakfast Table PendantRound 26" linen chandelier by Restoration Hardware
Buffet SconcesBoston Library Sconces by CircaLighting.com

Before:
Before Remodel
Family room:Before Remodel
Before Remodel

After:
House
Photobucket
House
House
House
House
House
House
House
House
House
House
House

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clipped on: 09.04.2011 at 12:16 pm    last updated on: 09.04.2011 at 12:16 pm

RE: Marble's Coming--Sealant Question (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: momto4kids on 08.27.2008 at 07:12 am in Kitchens Forum

I used a marble restoration expert to seal my honed Calacatta Oro. Porous Plus 511 is what he suggested. He specifically said not to use the impregnator. He went on to give me a very detailed explanation as to the differences in properties between stone somewhat saturated with Porous Plus and stone somewhat saturated with impregnator. At the time, I fully understood and didn't feel it was salesman's hype. He had both right there and would have done whichever I wanted. He was well aware fabricators push impregnators. He was a restoration expert, however, and I took his advice on the Porous Plus.

I've been very satisfied. Nearly 4 years. NO STAINING ANYWHERE in this high-volume, heavily traveled kitchen with one neat nik-type (Mom) and 5 "Mom will clean it up"-types. The color is still great. The marble still repels water at the drop. A few scattered etchmarks from errant lemon squirts. No one sees them but me.

I wouldn't make a different decision given the opportunity.

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clipped on: 07.25.2011 at 01:02 am    last updated on: 07.25.2011 at 01:02 am

Honed marble countertops 3 years later? Photos? Experience?

posted by: staceyneil on 05.26.2009 at 03:28 pm in Kitchens Forum

Hi folks-

I am having a terrible time choosing my countertops!! What I really want is a soft, organic look like honed marble. I was trying to approximate it with honed granite but cannot find, "the one".

The trouble is, if our plans work out, we're probably selling this house in a few years. So I have to be careful about resale.

We're not super-fussy, have a preteen and sloppy DH. We won't totally baby the counter, it'll see some hard cooking. Personally, I like a "lived in" look that soapstone, etc gets when used, but I am worried that marble would look too "worn" for resale.

We're looking at white marbles, Cararra.... honed.

Anyone have any experience they can share?

Thanks so much!!

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clipped on: 07.25.2011 at 12:58 am    last updated on: 07.25.2011 at 12:58 am

Finished Traditional Kitchen (lots of pics)

posted by: jm_seattle on 03.05.2011 at 01:54 pm in Kitchens Forum

THANK YOU GARDENWEB! We got so many great ideas from this forum, and everybody was so incredibly helpful and generous.

Here are some pics and a few details:
Island:
Island
Overview:
Kitchen corner
Refrigerator and pantry:
Refrigerator/Freezer
Message center:
Message center with built-in chalkboard
Breakfast nook:
Breakfast nook
Our KD wanted an extremely large window area to bring in light, but made it fit into the old house by breaking it up and using leaded glass:
new leaded glass windows
Sink w/glass filler, runnels, & built-in compost bin:
Sink w/Runnels & built-in compost bin
Built-in compost bin close-up:
Built-in compost bin
Mug shelf:
Mug Shelf
Charging drawer. This entire cabinet is deeper than it appears because it is built into the interior wall behind it, gaining an extra 4" or so of storage space without creeping into the walkway in front of it:
Charging station built into drawer
Island cabinets:
Island cabinets wtih cutting board
Miele ovens installed as flush inset (I searched and never did find pictures of this, so hopefully these will help somebody else):
Miele appliances mounted flush inset
Cleaning closet in "invented space" from interior wall:
Cleaning closet
Extra depth for the vacuum was made by reducing the depth of the drawers under the pantry:
Cleaning closet
The placement of the outlet underneath the music player shelf allows the nasty cordness to be hidden from eye-level:
Music Shelf
Toe-kick heater vent. The toe-kick face under the message center & island is covered with stained oak flooring. From eye-level, the toe-kick absorbs the correct amount of light and gives the appearance of freestanding cabinets.
Under island heater vent
The freestanding appearance is clearer here:
Cabinet built-into wall
Drawers under nook seating area:
Under-seat drawers in nook
There is a powder room off the kitchen. This wasn't our first choice, but ended up being our only choice in this old house, and has been okay, especially considering its placement is directly next to the hallway and away from the primary cooking area:
Bathroom off of kitchen
Adjacent mudroom, which became part of the kitchen remodel. The door is to a laundry chute which we use mostly for kitchen towels & napkins.
Mudroom

Here is a link that might be useful: More pictures

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clipped on: 07.17.2011 at 04:21 pm    last updated on: 07.17.2011 at 04:22 pm

Resurfacing marble at home -- can be done

posted by: sayde on 05.02.2011 at 06:02 pm in Kitchens Forum

Our marble slabs were originally polished when they were received by the fabricator. Those who read previous threads know that when we received them they were horribly botched -- uneven rough patches and very visible swipe marks. Looked like acid was used, and a very poor job of it.

I had been wary of choosing marble because of the possibility of etching. Now, we were confronted with marble that had been unevenly and severely etched all over, and we had to decide how to proceed.

We did recover some funds from the fabricator.

And then DH rehoned the marble himself. He used 5 inch diameter 320 grit Abranet pads on an orbital sander. He followed by going over the surface with pumice. It took about an hour for the first pass and then we went over some of the areas again. The marble became silky smooth and even, while retaining the matte honed appearance. We finished with two coats of sealer.

I'm posting because I was one of many who feared getting marble in the first place because of the etching. There is no doubt that it will etch in future, but I wanted to share that it can be resurfaced.

I love the Danby marble. I feel much less worried going forward seeing how it can be brought back to a perfect smooth honed surface. Just wanted to share this with others who want marble but are concerned about etching.

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clipped on: 07.10.2011 at 10:25 pm    last updated on: 07.10.2011 at 10:25 pm

A twist on the white kitchen - not final but in the home stretch!

posted by: alabamamommy on 02.10.2011 at 01:05 am in Kitchens Forum

Listen up you wonderful, helpful, creative and generous souls. This woman's spent the past 8 months lurking and learning and dreaming and editing and taking notes, and fretting and so on and so forth. But now I can't take it anymore. Even though the kitchen isn't done... they finally placed my island slab and I can't take it anymore. I have to share.

So are some snaps of our 90% finished kitchen. You won't see the wall with freedom columns without their doors, or the lunch station without it's backsplash, the pot filler, the appliance garage doors, the glass shelves to replace the wood ones currently or even any blasted hardware (shakes fists in the air still). But you'll get the general idea!

Without further ado - my island:


So - lemmie hear your cheers for the final mile...
"Don't lose your mind! Don't lose your mind! Don't lose your mind!"

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clipped on: 06.18.2011 at 12:14 pm    last updated on: 06.18.2011 at 12:14 pm

cluttered chaos to clean and calm: finished!

posted by: carriea on 12.30.2010 at 05:45 pm in Kitchens Forum

I finally figured out how to post photos and wanted to share our finished kitchen. While I didn't post often, I lurked ALL the time and gleaned invaluable advice from this forum. Many thanks to the GW collective insights!

Details:
Cabinets maple painted white dove; end piece - cherry wood
Countertops: honed antiqued Carrara marble
Sink blanco
Faucet- hans grohe
Fridge - Kitchenaid
Ovens and cooktop Thermador
Microwave drawer - Sharp
Hood - Best
Backsplash - Ann Sacks
Paint - BM Silver Marlin

Here it is: I tried to arrange photos before and after...

IMG_4073

DSC_5545

IMG_4066

DSC_5579

IMG_4068

DSC_5575

IMG_4069

DSC_5561

DSC_5566

DSC_5573

DSC_5570

DSC_5567

DSC_5557

DSC_5563

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clipped on: 06.18.2011 at 12:10 pm    last updated on: 06.18.2011 at 12:13 pm

Natural stone primer/ granite 101 by stonegirl

posted by: mary_in_nc on 11.04.2007 at 09:22 pm in Kitchens Forum

Found this through google search- apparently this was a previous thread in KF by Stonegirl. Felt it worth repeating.
///////////////////////////////////////////////

Hi folks -

This is a little article I wrote on another forum and in reply to a few questions regarding the selection of natural stone and stone fabricators.

In an industry that has no set standards, there are a lot of unscrupulous people trying to palm themselves off as fabricators. There are also a number of people with odd agendas trying to spread ill rumors about natural stone and propagate some very confusing and contradictory information. This is my small attempt at shedding a little light on the subject

On the selection of the actual stone slabs - When you go to the slab yard to choose slabs for your kitchen, there are a few things you need to take note of:

Surface finish: The finish - be it polished, honed, flamed antiqued or brushed should be even. There should be no spots that have obvious machine marks, scratches or other man made marks. You can judge by the crystal and vein pattern of the stone if the marks you see are man made or naturally occurring. It is true that not all minerals will finish evenly and if you look at an angle on a polished slab with a larger crystal pattern, you can clearly see this. Tropic Brown would be a good example here. The black spots will not polish near as shiny as the brown ones and this will be very obvious on an unresined slab, looking at an acute angle against the light. The black specks will show as duller marks. The slab will feel smooth and appear shiny if seen from above, though. This effect will not be as pronounced on a resined slab. Bottom line when judging the quality of a surface finish: Look for unnatural appearing marks. If there are any on the face of the slab, it is not desirable. They might well be on the extreme edges, but this is normal and a result of the slab manufacturing process.

Mesh backing: Some slabs have a mesh backing. This got done at the plant where the slabs were finished and is to add support to brittle materials or materials with excessive veining or fissures. A number of exotic stones will have this. This does not necessarily make the material one of inferior quality, though. Quite often these slabs will require special care in fabrication and transport, so be prepared for the fabricator to charge accordingly. If you are unsure about the slabs, ask your fabricator what his opinion of the material is.

On cracks and fissures: Yes - some slabs might have them. One could have quite the discussion on whether that line on the slab could be one or the other, so I'll try to explain it a little Fissures are naturally occurring features in stone. They will appear as little lines in the surface of the slabs (very visible in a material like Verde Peacock) and could even be of a different color than the majority of the stone (think of those crazed white lines sometimes appearing in Antique Brown). Sometimes they could be fused like in Antique Brown and other times they could be open, as is the case in the Verde Peacock example. They could often also go right through the body of the slab like in Crema Marfil, for instance. If you look at the light reflection across a fissure, you will never see a break - i.e. there will be no change in the plane on either side of a fissure. A crack on the other hand is a problem... If you look at the slab at an oblique angle in the light, you will note the reflection of the shine on the surface of the stone. A crack will appear as a definite line through the reflection and the reflection will have a different appearance on either side of the line - there will be a break in the plane. Reject slabs like this. One could still work around fissures. Cracks are a whole nother can of worms.

On resined slabs: The resin gets applied prior to the slabs being polished. Most of the resin then gets ground off in the polishing process. You should not be able to see just by looking at the surface of a slab whether it was resined or not. If you look at the rough sides of the slab, though, you will see some drippy shiny marks, almost like varnish drips. This should be the only indication that the slab is resined. There should never be a film or layer on the face of the stone. With extremely porous stones, the resining will alleviate, but not totally eliminate absorption issues and sealer could still be required. Lady's dream is an example. This material is always resined, but still absorbs liquids and requires sealer. Test the material you have selected for absorption issues regardless - it is always best to know what your stone is capable of and to be prepared for any issues that might arise. Some stones indeed does not require sealer - be they resined or not. Baltic Brown would be an example here. It will not absorb one iota of anything, but gets resined to eliminate a flaking issue.

Now for some pointers on recognizing good craftsmanship and quality fabricators:

Most stone installations will have seams. They are unavoidable in medium or large sized kitchens. One hallmark of a good fabricator is that they will keep the seams to a minimum. It seems that a good book could be written about seams, their quality and their placement and still you will have some information that will be omitted! For something as seemingly simple as joining two pieces of stone, seams have evolved into their own universe of complexity far beyond what anybody should have fair cause to expect!

A generic good quality seam should have the following characteristics:

- It should be flat. According to the MIA a minimal amount of lippage is acceptable (1/32"), but conscientious fabricators all strive for a perfectly flat and smooth joint.

- It should be narrow - as in smaller than 1/16". (I think the MIA stipulates no larger than 1/8", but that is pushing it - and only if the fabricator bevels the edges of the seam, almost similar to the edge of a stone tile. This is, thank goodness, not a standard practice any more!)

- The color on either side of the seam should match as close as possible. On regularly patterned stones like Ubatuba for example - there should be no variation. On stones with variation in colors or veins, the match should be made as close as was humanly possible.

- Vein direction should flow. The MIA suggests a single direction of vein flow, but it is acceptable IF DISCUSSED WITH THE CLIENT to change vein direction on a seam if no other option is available. This would happen in book matched slabs - you will have a "butterfly" seam in this case. In other cases the fabricator could put a miter seam in a corner and change vein direction 90 degrees. This is usually done with extremely linear veining like Bamboo Green, for example, but this is something that should be discussed with the fabricator and agreed upon by the client.

- The seam on the finished edge of the stone should NOT dip in and create a divot in the edge. When you run your fingers over the edge you should not be able to feel the location of the seam at all.

- The thickness of the slabs on either side of the seam should be equal (or feathered out so that there is no discernible difference)

- The glue in the seam should be of a color that matches the stone as close as possible. Glue joints that are too light or too dark will show up something terrible. The idea behind tinting the glue is to try an make the seam "disappear" or something relatively close to it

Seam placement: Yet another kettle of fish (or can of worms, depending on how you look at it, I guess!) Seam placement is ultimately at the discretion of the fabricator. I know it is not a really popular point of view, but that is just the way it is. There really is more to deciding where the seam would go than just the size of the slab or where the seam would look best in the kitchen.

Among the things the fabricator needs to look at when deciding on the seam placement are:

- The slab: size, color, veining, structure (fissures, strength of the material an other characteristics of the stone)

- Transport to the job site: Will the fabricated pieces fit on whatever vehicle and A-frames he has available

- Access to the job site: Is the house on stilts? (common in coastal areas) How will the installers get the pieces to where they need to go? Will the tops fit in the service elevator if the apartment is on the 10th floor? Do the installers need to turn tight corners to get to the kitchen? There could be 101 factors that will impact seam placement here alone.

- Placement and size of undermount (or other) cut-outs. Some fabricators like to put seams in undermount sinks, some don't. We, for instance will do it if absolutely necessary, and have done so with great success, but will not do so as general practice. We do like to put seams in the middle of drop-in appliances and cut-outs and this is a great choice for appearances and ease of installation.

- Location of the cabinets: Do the pieces need to go in between tall cabinets with finished sides? Do the pieces need to slide in under appliance garages or other cabinetry? How far do the upper cabinets hang over? Is there enough clearance between the vent hood and other cabinets? Again the possibilities are endless and would depend on each individual kitchen lay-out and - ultimately -

- Installability of the fabricated pieces: Will that odd angle hold up to being moved and turned around to get on the peninsula if there is no seam in it? Will the extra large sink cut-out stay intact if we hold the piece flat and at a 45 degree angle to slide it in between those two tall towers? Again a 1001 combinations of cabinetry and material choices will come into play on this question.

You can ask your fabricator to put a seam at a certain location and most likely he will oblige, but if he disagrees with you, it is not (always) out of spite or laziness. Check on your fabricator's seams by going to actual kitchens he has installed. Do not trust what you see in a showroom as sole testament to your fabricator's ability to do seams.

With modern glues and seaming methods a seam could successfully be put anywhere in an installation without compromising the strength or integrity of the stone. If a seam was done well, there would be - in theory - no "wrong" location for it. A reputable fabricator will also try to keep the number of seams in any installation to a minimum. It is not acceptable, for instance to have a seam in each corner, or at each point where the counter changes direction, like on an angled peninsula.

Long or unusually large pieces are often done if they can fit in the constraints of a slab. Slabs as a rule of thumb will average at about 110"x65". There are bigger slabs, and quite often smaller ones too. Check with the fabricator or the slab yard. They will be more than happy to tell you the different sizes of slabs they have available. Note, though, that the larger the slabs, the smaller the selection of possible colors. Slab sizes would depend in part on the capabilities of the quarry, integrity of the material or the capabilities of the machinery at the finishing plant. We have had slabs as wide as 75" and as long as 130" before, but those are monsters and not always readily available.

Rodding is another issue where a tremendous amount of mis-information and scary stories exist: The main purpose for rodding stone would be to add integrity to the material around cut-outs. This is primarily for transport and installation and serves no real purpose once the stone is secured and fully supported on the cabinets. It would also depend on the material. A fabricator would be more likely to rod Ubatuba than he would Black Galaxy, for instance. The flaky and delicate materials prone to fissures would be prime candidates for rodding. Rodding is basically when a fabricator cuts slots in the back of the stone and embeds steel or fiberglass rods with epoxy in the slots in the stone. You will not see this from the top or front of the installation. This is an "insurance policy" created by the fabricator to make sure that the stone tops make it to your cabinets all in one piece.

Edges: The more rounded an edge is, the more stable it would be. Sharp, flat edges are prone to chipping under the right (or rather wrong) circumstances. Demi or full bullnose edges would almost entirely eliminate this issue. A properly milled and polished edge will be stable and durable regardless of the profile, though. My guess at why ogee and stacked edges are not more prevalent, would be purely because of cost considerations. Edge pricing is determined by the amount of work needed to create it. The more intricate edge profiles also require an exponentially larger skill set and more time to perfect. The ogee edge is a very elegant edge and can be used to great effect, but could easily look overdone if it is used everywhere. We often advise our clients to combine edges for greater impact - i.e. eased edge on all work surfaces, and ogee on the island to emphasize the cabinetry or unusual shape.

Like I said earlier - edge profiles are largely dependent on what you like and can afford. There is no real pro or con for regular or laminated edges. They all have their place in the design world Check with your fabricator what their capabilities and pricing are. Look at actual kitchens and ask for references.

A good edge should have the following characteristics:

- Shine: The edge polish should match the top polish in depth and clarity. The edge should not be milky, dull or waxy.

- The edge should not have "waves". Eyeball along the edge. A good edge should have a mirror like reflection and be fairly flat. Waves that you can see or feel are not a good thing.

- The aris (very top of the edge) should be crisp and straight, even on a bullnose edge. Once again you can see this by eyeballing along the very top end of the edge profile. A wavy, dippy aris is poor craftsmanship.

- A good edge will have a consistent profile. It will not be larger in some spots or smaller in others.

- A good edge should also have NO tooling lines. These will be fine lighter/white lines running along the edge. This is a mark of a poor edge polish, of a CNC machine that is not set correctly and a lack of hand finishing. This is common when a company has only mechanised fabrication (i.e. CNC macines or line polishers) and no skilled hand fabricators to finish the work properly.

We have seen some terrible edges in jobs done by our competitors.

Do your research and look at actual kitchens. Talk to clients and ask them about the fabricator. Most good fabricators will not hesitate to supply the names and numbers of clients willing to provide referrals. Do your homework.

Regards,
Adriana

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clipped on: 06.18.2011 at 12:09 pm    last updated on: 06.18.2011 at 12:13 pm