This is the journal of my apartment renovation.
November 16th 2020
First day of renovations!
This day was one made for discovery. First I went to the do-it-yourself store. I bought gloves, scrappers, glue solvent, ground protection canvas, a bucket, masks and several other little things I needed to start. I spent more time in the store than I wanted and arrived mid-afternoon in the apartment.
I had to remove plates of polystyrene glued to the entrance and the corridor ceiling and remove the wallpaper from the entrance hall.
I started with the ceiling plates, removing them one by one and stuffing them inside a trash bag. The risk with the ceiling was that the glue used to stick the plates would rip off the plaster. Fortunately for me, coating was used as glue and most polystyrene plates came off easily, only leaving coated dots. I did the entrance hall and the whole corridor. Once I was finished my arms hurt.
To recover some strength I decided to continue with the entrance wallpapers. I pierced little holes in it with a special tool. Then I soaked the wall with a glue solvent, using a sponge. Most of the paper came off easily but some parts needed two passes. Under it, the wall is in a correct state but obviously it will need a new plaster before painting. I removed the paper from the first wall, finding my marks as I was doing it.
While doing this, I worried about the ceiling's coated dots. I tried to sand them but it was too hard, nothing came off. Discouraged, I took a metal scraper and a hammer and started going under. It took some trials and errors but I found a good technique: bend the scraper at 45 degrees, hammer once, then go closer to the ceiling little by little, each time hammering. This way the whole coated dots came of in one to three parts. Doing it this way added marks and little holes in the ceiling but it will be faster to re-coat the holes than sand what's there. I removed half of the dots in the entrance all this day.
I think I spent around 3 hours and half between the store and the work this day. I went home happy but a bit worried about the time needed to do the ceiling.
November 17th 2020
Second day of work! This time I came earlier in the afternoon and continued the work in the entrance hall. I had to remove the interphone, the ring bell, an electricity box, curtains that were hiding the entrance door, as well as the curtains bar. It took a bit of time, as well as removing the paper around the door.
I started feeling dizzy, soaking some wall there, another one there, forgetting about scrapping the first one and having to soak it again. Overall I wasn't happy it took me so much time to do this, I felt it was supposed to go faster. I finished removing the dots from the ceiling in the entrance hall and went home exhausted with arms hurting.
November 19th 2020
I didn't go to the apartment yesterday as I was sick. I arrived defeated and felt I was not going to be able to do anything. I decided to put some music to help me focus and started listening to L'école du micro d'argent from IAM. The first song starts this way:
Assis en tailleur, voilà des heures que je médite Sur ma montagne et je n'arrive pas à faire le vide Je focalise sur le diaphragme, j'augmente mon énergie Réveille la bête qui dans mon âme est tapie
This song gave me a burst of motivation and confidence and I decided I wasn't going let a damn ceiling dictate my life! Eat that frog they say, so I was going to eat this damn ceiling. I moved my stepladder in the corridor and started going hard on the coating dots while singing. It took me almost 2 hours with a few breaks to rest my harms but in the end I did it, the ceiling is now free of coating dots!
Feeling confident, I decided I should try removing the corridor wallpaper. I picked a little piece in my hand, pulled it and... Everything came off easily, in a single pull, without any glue solvent! The sound of wallpaper being teared off from the wall is so satisfying. The larger the piece, the deeper the sound, the most satisfaction it procures.
In around 30 minutes the whole corridor was wallpaper free. It felt sooooo good to see it naked! I thought I would spend two days on this, and I was already done.
I managed to talk with the renovation contractor to fix a date for the walls demolition. He said to me is Saturday ok and I answered wait what this Saturday and eventually that's how I learned three men were coming the day after tomorrow to smash the wall in my new apartment. Knowing how noisy it would be, I knocked to the door of all my neighbors to warn them that Saturday wasn't a good day for a morning sleep-in.
November 20th 2020
This day I wasn't alone! Coralie wasn't working and came to help. We decided she would tear off some wallpaper while I was preparing the place for the contractors. She started peeling the paper in my future bedroom while I was removing electrical outlets, light switches and more wallpaper. Since the contractors are going to remove walls and then fix the walls, ceilings and grounds, I try to remove anything that would slow them down.
I also wrote notes on paper to warn the neighbors I could not meet. The most important one, right below my apartment, wasn't there again and stuck a note in his door basically saying SORRY IT'S GONNA BE NOISY AS HELL FOR A DAY. We went home and eat soba.
November 21th 2020
My alarm wakes me at 7am. I haven't woken up so early in months and I feel like sleeping more. Coralie came to check I was awake, admitting that she was very stressed by the idea of me not waking up. I took a breakfast and prepared a thermos of coffee for the contractors. A friend who renovated his house gave me some advices: be clear in your instructions, stay calm if something goes wrong, stay firm if contractors try to negotiate. And that bringing some coffee was always welcome.
I met them at the apartment, and they were nice folks. One of them is around 30 and the other is older, around 45 if I have to guess. We talked a bit, drank coffee, discussed the remodeling and what I was planning for the apartment. They grab a lot of tools, put blankets on the ground.
Then, one of them picked a hammer and started smashing on a wall. That was both frightening and super cool. Friends asked me why I didn't try it myself but I didn't want to exhaust myself as I had a lot to do today too. The second contractor started smashing the walls too. I was in the kitchen, disassembling furniture and hearing the sound of bricks, stones, plaster raining on the floor. It was quite something!
When they stopped I opened the kitchen door and saw... nothing. There was no wall left, only the door frame. I could see the whole living room from the kitchen. The whole thing was so spacious and luminous, it was amazing! I was relieved seeing it was as good as I hope. The contractors then started the hard work of removing the debris from the ground. They filled around then 100 litters garbage bins and took them down by the stairs. The poor guys were sweating hard. We took another coffee and discussed the result. I apologized for making them suffer like this. They said it was ok and that they were used to it.
Once they were done they smashed another wall. The corridor ends with a big, two meters square closet that is right next the smallest bedroom. I wanted it removed, as well as the door frames. Another door will be added at the end of the corridor.
Lunchtime arrived, they went to eat something and I went home. All morning I was texting photos and videos of the remodeling to Coralie and my family. I added some details in message apps, rested a little, then went back around 2pm. The contractors were, once again, filling garbage bins and taking them down by the stairs. On my side of things I managed to remove all kitchen cabinets from the walls and the ground. The previous owner was the uncle Scrooge type. To avoid buying enough metal feet for the cabinets, he only gave two to each and then fixed all the cabinets together with dozens of screws! It took me hours to remove them all!
In the middle of the afternoon the contractors were done moving debris and went to the bathroom to empty it. They removed the furniture and struggled with the tub. Meanwhile, I went to the now extended room and decided it was time to remove this ugly wood paneling. Wood paneling is often serves two purposes: first it isolates the room by creating a small space between the wood and the wall ; and secondly it hides ugly walls. It was the only unknown in the apartment.
And oh boy. As I was removing the wood panels, I discovered an ugly and humid wall, with swelling plaster all around it. The wall is basically unusable and cannot be re-plastered directly. It needs scraping, a lot of it, to go back to reach the concrete wall behind. The fake wooden floor isn't even going to the wall! There're 3 centimeters between the floor and the wall! I became super worried about the time and cost those walls were going to cost me.
I asked the contractors about it, and they said it was probably wiser and cheaper to clean the wall a bit then glue plasterboard. They explained some types came with an insulation layer that prevents humidity from reaching the plaster side and the painting. I phoned the company, explaining them my discovery. They took measures and then updated the invoice, which grew by a substantial margin.
I already knew when I started this project that things don't go as planned and always cost more than you think, so I wasn't that angry or stressed. Plus adding an insulation layer will reduce the heating cost so in the long run it's worth it. I asked for advice to friends and family who were in this situation before and all said the same ting: do it.
I went home around 6pm, showered, took the car again to get us Bò Búns. We started watching my Yamada neighbors, but I was so tired I went to bed in the middle. I fell asleep instantly.
November 22 2020
I woke up late after a strange dream where a long-time lost friend and I were kidnapping Trump and evacuating him from a location (a golden maze like mansion, very fitting) using exhaust pipes. I remember he stayed stuck inside, so we had to flush several toilets to make him go down. It was very satisfying.
My body was numb and painful. The day before was hard and I wasn't doing any sport before this so it was kind of logical. Got up and went to the bakery by a fresh charcoal baguette for me, buckwheat bread for Coralie and chocolate viennese for the two of us. Also bought eggs and crêpes. We had breakfast while watching The Mandalorian, then went back to the apartment.
Coralie was frustrated she could not help yesterday because of her handicap. She came determined to be useful and started peeling the kitchen wallpaper (she loves doing it, she says it's like removing dead skins). Meanwhile, I started removing all the electrical gutters. There were so many of them! Some of them were even empty! What happened in this place before?!
But removing them allowed me to make a wonderful discovery! The building is from the sixties and in this period, they didn't have ground connection. When buying an apartment of this period, it's always the lottery. I knew the kitchen and bathroom had the ground connection because that's mandatory, but I wasn't sure about the other rooms. Well turns out all of them have it!
The apartment is on the last floor and the previous owner used the attic to pass a ground cable from the fuse box to all the rooms. It was done poorly and cheaply, with holes in the ceilings and cables hidden in ugly plastic electrical gutters. If I'm not happy about the ugliness, I'm super happy I won't have to do it myself. Now all I have to do to make it pretty is adding hollow plinths to hide the cables. I'll also try to add gigabit Ethernet cables and sockets in each room.
Coralie managed to finish peeling the kitchen walls and targeted a new victim: the last bedroom. This one was frightening to us. A thick wallpaper that was repaint loosely. I managed to catch a little piece, pulled and... EVERYTHING CAME IN A SINGLE SHEET. Apparently the wallpaper and glue were the same as in the corridor. We removed everything in 20 minutes then went to toilets and started doing the same. Unfortunately it wasn't as easy but most of it came off nicely.
Finally, we discussed our discoveries of the day. When removing the wallpaper, we realized there was moisture traces on the plaster in the last bedroom. Not on all walls, only the one facing the outside. It was the same traces as the wood paneled wall. Worried, I went to the second bedroom that I thought was in correct shape. I started knocking at the walls and realized that one of them made a hollow sound. Using a flat screw diver, I dig a little in the wall and realized it had the same problem, only minimized by a second plaster coat and paint.
This room is oriented to the north and already had mild moisture traces in a ceiling corner. We knew this room was a bit cold and humid, because the previous owner added a controlled mechanical ventilation to the ceiling. I started asking myself if we shouldn't isolate and plasterboard all the bedroom walls facing outside. Between the first room and this one, it would probably double the initial invoice.
I asked my father about it, and he said I should do it. He was right to say that once we will be installed, if we feel the cold, we're not going to empty the room again to plasterboard it, and we'll end up not liking the apartment. Adding insulation will also reduce the cost of heating the rooms.
Right now I feel like a builder in the Grand Design show. In this show each time people go over budget and feel terrible about it. Fortunately for me, I knew it would happen and planned it, but it's still a shock. We'll see with the contractor tomorrow.
November 23 2020
Woke up early again and went to the apartment to meet with the main contractor. We made a tour and talked about the need to insulate the walls, he agreed with me it would probably be better. I also explained I needed time to check the electrical installation with a pro before positioning the plasterboard. It annoyed him a little bit, but he accepted that we postpone the rest of the renovation when I told him we could continue either in December or January as I'm not moving in until February.
He called an electrician he works with regularly, who accepted to meet with me tomorrow. I went back home around 10am for a video call. Once it was done I made lunch and suddenly felt super tired. I decided I should rest today and go back tomorrow. I have to make phone calls to get electricity anyway.
November 24 2020
I have electricity! It was quick and everything is working fine. I went to the apartment at 1pm to meet with the electrician. He was recommended to me by two persons and after seeing ground connection cables in all rooms, I felt it was going to be fine. Turns out I should not have.
The electrician was supposed to stay 30 minutes, he stayed more than one hour. The electricity in my apartment is a freaking mess. First, I have two electrical systems! The old one dating from construction is used for light switches and some electrical outlets. The new one, redid later, is used for the other electrical outlets. But here's the problem: all heaters are connected to the same circuit as the outlets instead of their own. Which means if a heater takes a lot of juice and other electrical items do it too, the circuit breaker will be triggered.
Except it might not! Because apparently the person that did the electrical box choose a too high amperage compared to the electricity consumption (the stuff he used is not even available in public store, where did he get that?!). That means that cables, who are too thin to take such a charge, would melt before the circuit breaker cuts the juice. It's the same for other parts of the apartment: the oven has excessively thin wire, the induction cooker too, and so on...
Considering we don't know which parts of the old system are still in use, that we can't know for sure, and that the most recent one is garbage... everything has to be redone. Of course that means more money. If I'm not running short at the moment, with the electrician and insulation bill, half of my reserves will be gone. I know it's an investment and that it will pay itself the day I sell the apartment. But this will also drastically reduce the freedom of choice for the bathroom and the kitchen, and I wanted to customize them to our needs to feel right at home. Or I can extend the budget in exchange for more freelance work? We'll see.
On the plus side, doing this electrical upgrade would mean a new and cleaner electrical box, displacing some light bulbs to better places, having more electrical outlets in some rooms. I also plan to work at home as much as I can in the future, so moving the modem to a more secure and accessible place as well as adding Ethernet cables to each room at the same time of electricity might be handy.
But the saddest part is that we probably won't be able to enter the apartment in March like we wanted. Electricity has to be done before the insulation and the electrician is a busy man. He might not be available until the end of January, and we expected to move mid-February. With the time needed to finish renovations, install the bathroom and kitchen, that means moving in April or May.
I brooded all afternoon after the electrician left. I spent the rest of the day cutting the paneling boards in two, so I can transport them into my car. While doing, I realized the apartment was full of light and even a little warm as the sun was passing through the windows. It felt good and reminded me why I was doing all this.
On the way home I went to the post office to send some paperwork, and to the bank to pay the first part of the construction workers' bill. I bought a muffin at the bakery and ate it in the sofa.
November 25th 2020
Today was probably the shortest time I spent in the apartment but also the most exhausting. I went there with a simple idea: remove all the mess that had accumulated. I brought a big 100 liters sturdy bin to facilitate transportation. Then I prepared Yaya (the affective nickname we give to our ugly 2005 Toyota Yaris Verso) for transportation by folding the seats under the floor. My body is ready I thought while I was climbing to the fourth floor.
Oh jeez my body was so NOT ready! First I charged the bin with the paneling boards. Probably overly optimistic, I put a little too much in and when I lifted it I remember saying "Ooooh shit" out loud. Nevertheless, I went down with this massive amount of wood in my arms, stopping every two floor. I filled Yaya with the planks, then went back up there and started again. Just the wood panels took me 4 round trips! I was so tired but it wasn't over. I also had to get the plastic gullies down, as well as steel frame parts, a gigantic roll of wallpaper and five more bags filled of wallpaper.
The last round trip was super painful with one of my knees making me suffer a lot, something that never happened before. Exhausted I just grabbed my jacket, went down again and unable to do anything, went back home where I showered, eat and went to sleep.
November 26th 2020
Quite a busy but satisfying day! I took Yaya to the waste disposal in the morning, it took me some time, but I was happy that I had sorted everything right, a skill I sort of acquired while we emptied the family house last summer and I acted as the garbage collector!
With the car empty I went to the DIY store to buy some furniture: a broom, ground protection sheets, a big brush, masking tape and a humidity treatment for my walls. I went home to eat lunch and had a very hard time getting out of the sofa with my body hurting from yesterday.
I finally managed to go to the apartment around 3pm. My original plan was to dismantle the kitchen cabinets and charge them into the car. But once I was there, I felt a bit demotivated by the state of the apartment. It was a mess! There was broken plaster everywhere, white dust is covering the black floor, pieces of wood, electric cables and screws. It was so dirty!
So to regain some motivation I decided I was going to clean this place (and also because it was less exhausting). So I swept the floor for something like two hours, removing everything I could remove. I also took the time to empty the holes in the wood floor created by the absence of the walls we removed. It's in this situation I really appreciated buying working gloves. After doing the bedrooms and the bathroom I stopped to dismantle the kitchen cabinet.
While I was doing it I thought to myself there were in good shape and that they could be useful. I texted a friend that is almost done renovating his apartment. He was interested but had to ask his girlfriend, who is apparently a bit bothered by his habit of bringing furniture from nowhere. While I waited for his answer, I decided it was time to empty the kitchen.
I moved the last cabinets and the oven in the living room. Then I started unscrewing the counter-top to the wall. I was worried I would break the plasterboard it was glued to while trying to move it. As with many things in the apartment, the whole thing was so old that I could remove it easily, with glue breaking instantly.
The sink had been fitted inside the counter-top and the counter-top on a cupboard. My goal was to saw the extremities of the counter-top but I didn't have to: by just pressing a little the chipboard inside the counter-top broke! I was surprised but apparently the wood had rotten and was more brittle than I expected.
When looking inside the cupboard I finally realized how old all this kitchen installation was. The cupboard was customized with a small hole for the gas conduct! But the building abandoned gas more than twenty years ago! How old is this thing?! Since the gas tap was added after putting the conduct in the hole, I had to saw a part of the cupboard to then move it away from the wall.
I cleaned the kitchen and received a text message. It was my friend saying his girlfriend say NO. I'll have to move the cabinets down by myself, sigh. But looking at them, I thought it was probably stupid to put them into the trash, so I'll see if I can give them to a charity once the lock-down is over.
I was still motivated to do something, so I looked in the kitchen and thought... that I really didn't like this glass fabric on the ceiling. It's gross with, with traces of fat. The painting is flaking off when I touch it... Yeah, I should remove it.
Now with glass fabric, either you are lucky and everything comes off gently. Or you are doomed and the glue is too strong and you have to peel it. And I was super lucky! But while tearing it, all the paint started to flake off and it was suddenly snowing dry paint in the kitchen I just finished cleaning.
Once I was done I realized that there was a lot of paint and glue particles left on the ceiling and, just moving inside the room made them fall. Suddenly I was like the purple thing in Alex Norris comics saying Oh no out loud. So I took the broom and undertook the absolutely relaxing, not arm hurting at all task of sweeping my kitchen ceiling.
It took me around 20 minutes and time for cleaning afterwards. Once I was done I texted Coralie How about pizza :smirkemoji: and she texted back I already bought one_. This woman can anticipate my needs like no one.
So I went home, showered, fell into the sofa, ate pizza, drank a local beer made with alga (did I mention I live nearby the sea?), watched Grand Design on Youtube. In this episode a couple overspends while renovating a chapel. Wow they're crazy I thought while gluttonously eating a pizza slice.
December 2 2020
It's been a few days since I went to the apartment. After the previous week and I felt extremely tired and physically broken. I decided I should rest a little bit. My plan was to go on Monday to clean the last things left as, on Tuesday, I was starting a new exciting mission at work. In my mind it was settled: after this monday, I would only work in the apartment on the weekends.
But I learned that my mission was postponed, which hit me harder than I thought. Then the invoice for the electrical renovation came in and it was way larger than what I expected. I asked a friend about it and he told me it was overpriced and that I should ask someone else. He gave me a number and I called. I also called the first electrician to bargain a little bit but it's not really in my nature to bargain when I don't have the keys to understand the values of things.
On Tuesday I was supposed to go but decided not to. I was demotivated.
And today on Wednesday, I finally found some motivation and went. Well most of it came from the rendez-vous with the new electrician. He seems like a nice guy, he gave good advices. He'll do his own invoice soon. What relieved me is that he can start working much sooner than the first electrician. If the invoice is in my range, I may have electricity done sooner than I envisioned!
After the rendez-vous I went home to eat, then came back one again in the apartment. I felt completely lost to be honest. There's so much to do I didn't know where to start. I still have some bookshelves to remove but screws are stuck. I have furniture leftovers to walk down, the charity to call for the kitchen cabinets. And so many walls in a bad state.
Not knowing exactly what to do, I decided I should start with the humidity traces on the walls. I picked a scraper and a hammer, and started removing plaster that had separated from the walls. I don't want the future plasterboard to be glued to volatile plaster. I brushed the walls in one of the bedroom to clean them a bit, and then sprayed a special product for humidity stains. A few minutes later I cleaned everything but some stains are still there. I'll have to redo it another time.
I also finally took the time to go inside the attic. It's clean and there's a kind of wool insulation everywhere. I could barely distinguish the internet fibre cable and the electrical sheaths. It probably won't be easy to pass electrical cables there.
My original plan was to stay a little bit more but my phone lost the internet connection. With no way to listen to music or podcasts, the cold weather even inside, and my motivation reaching new bottoms, I decided to call it a day and went home.
December 4, 2020
A few days ago I mailed the co-ownership syndicate to inform them I wanted to use the attic. I received a mail from them and they were a bit shocked to learn there was a ventilation and electrical system there. Looks like the previous owner never bothered to warn the other co-owners that he was using the common parts of the building to install off-standards systems for himself.
They agreed to my demand, so I can use the attic. But the installation has to be done by a professional, I will have to pay if we damage the insulation and if anything should happen due to my installation, it will be my responsibility.
Well at least that's cleared!
December 9, 2020
I had a hard time finding motivation all weekend and it lasted until Monday, woops. On Tuesday I had to drive Coralie to a rendezvous at the hospital in the middle of the afternoon, so no work. I took this opportunity to buy the next things I needed to continue the renovation: renovation coating, coating knifes and WD40.
Wednesday I went to the apartment and started renovating the entrance walls. A lot of small holes and scratches to fill if I want a flat wall to paint later. It was my first time doing the coating with knifes, so I watched youtube tutorials to understand how to do it. Fortunately, for me, it's a renovation coating, not a smoothing one. Seeing how hard it is already to just fill holes, I hope sanding will be enough to get a flat wall.
I spent around two and a half hours doing the entrance. It was a very enjoyable and meditative task.
Once done I went into the attic again. You can't walk on the floor because of the insulation. I had to go from one beam to another. I discovered a mess with abandoned cables, sheaths and electric boxes. But the biggest mess is the ventilation system, which is suspended to the beams and breathes out inside the attic! All the humidity, grease and dirt was ending there! What was the previous owner thinking?!
The reason I went there was to judge if I was going to pay for a new ventilation system. My initial renovation invoice had doubled with the insulation. Now with the electricity and the ventilation, it quadrupled. I had to really think about it and make a choice.
December 11, 2020
I was called in a hurry by my father to help him move to his new house. I arrived a bit after the movers were done and helped him setting up furniture, especially the office of my step-mother. She is an independent scenographer and needs her office quick. So we built the shelves, installed the desks, a heater, a whiteboard and several other things. It was cool doing this together and I could feel he needed help and felt a bit overwhelmed so I'm glad I cam.
What I'm not glad I did was badly wounding my back. I forced too much and was unable to walk correctly for one hour. After that it was impossible to bend over, I was stuck. Nevertheless, we kept going and I arrived back home at 10 pm, feeling like my body was a boulder.
So of course, this Friday 9, I could not do any renovation. I stayed in bed most of the day, studying the quotes. In the end I decided we should redo everything. The new electrician is the same price as the first one (whom I haven't heard of again by the way) but had better ideas on how to do all this.
We're going to centralize the whole electrical system inside the kitchen, as well as the internet. A specialized box will contain all the circuit breakers, the Ethernet cables, the optic fibre cable and the modem.
For the ventilation, we're going to remove the old system from the attic. If we were to keep using it, we would have to drill a hole and add a chimney on the roof. Instead, we'll put the ventilation engine inside the toilets, using a fake ceiling to hide it. The toilets are between the bathroom and the kitchen, and next to the building natural ventilation conduct. We're going to move the ventilation from the ceiling to the walls, connecting the three rooms together and exhaust the air through the building conduct.
This way there will be nothing inside the attic anymore except for the low voltage cables. I signed the quote and paid the deposit. Adil, the new electrician, will start early in January. I'm worried about the cost but relieved everything is settled now. I now have a goal, which is finishing the walls at the same time Adil finishes the electricity.
Once that's done, the insulation will come and the last renovations should go fast. Next steps: ordering a kitchen and drawing plans for the bathroom. I have a good feeling about the latter.
December 14, 2020
Today I went to check the result of my coating in the entrance. And I'm glad, it's not bad! I'll have to check how it looks once it's sanded but I'm happy with the result.
I thought I had filled all the holes and scratches in the entrance but turns out there's more. So I spent quite some time fixing them. I went faster than before now that I have more experience. Once it was done, I went into the corridor to begin a big coating job: an interior corner.
The previous owner had an electric cable going there, then through a wall to power an electric heater located in the next room. I removed the cable as it's going to be replaced, but the sheath was partly inside the plaster. This interior corner being on the opposite of a wall we removed, it was kind of frail and a lot of debris came off. No choice but to fill it with a lot of coating and try to make a ninety degree corner.
I asked myself what I could do next and focused on preparing the kitchen walls. There was a TON of wall plugs (Is that how they are called?) and I think I spent more than half an hour removing them all. Some were so stuck I had to cut them.
December 15, 2020
Went to see my friend Marc to borrow two important pieces of equipment: a construction site vacuum cleaner and a giraffe sander. He was in the middle of painting a room (he's almost done renovating his own apartment) so I could not stay long. Went to the DIY store and bought glasses and a noise reduction helmet.
I was feeling good, so I thought come on, why not start with a ceiling?! I connected everything and started and omagad this thing is heavy and looking at the ceiling for so long hurts my neck so much and I have less strength in my arms than I thought. I had to go little by little, resting 5 to 10 minutes between each passage, but I made it! It took me around one hour I think. I'm happy with the result. This ceiling had had glass fabric before I removed it, and it left a lot of glue and paint chips. Everything is gone and outside a plaster rift I don't think I'll have a lot to do.
Then I went into the entrance to sand the walls I carefully coated the previous days. It... didn't go as well as I wanted. The previous owner probably put wallpaper because in some parts, the coating crackled and fell, revealing the plaster. I wanted to remove all traces of coating to have a clean plastered wall, but even the sanding machine could not remove it. The result is not that great: in some places even after sanding I have a thin thickness. I'm not sure if it will be visible once everything is painted or if I have to redo a full wall smooth coat before painting.
The place was a mess after all this sanding so I took some time to vacuum and clean. Overall I'm happy with all this but damn, it's going to be a long journey to sand all the ceilings and walls.
December 16, 2020
I originally planned to continue sanding today but my muscles were sore. We decided to go kitchen hunting with Coralie. Marc's partner Swenn explained to me they bought their kitchen at Leroy Merlin, so I proposed we went and take a look. We spent some time there checking lights, paintings, showers, and of course kitchens. I found something I really like, Coralie, not that much but she doesn't hate it. It's dark flat panels with a wood worktop and overall wood pieces there and there.
Seeing different styles made us realize a thing we actually don't want: cabinets going from the ground to almost the ceiling. It feels too big, it makes us suffocate. We'll try having the cabinets to go higher than 1,6 to 1,8 meters. We'll be able to put plants and bottles on top of them. We still have to really think about all this as for now, we only choose the style and not the configuration.
Ikea was nearby so we went there too. In the end none of the kitchens pleased me. There's something I felt for the first time: it's so easy to identify their furniture that if I took their kitchen, it would not be my kitchen but an Ikea kitchen inside my house. Maybe that's because of how mainstream the brand is now? Maybe because it's the default place everyone (including us) go? Either way, I don't want them even if they are good on the practical side.
We spent little time in Ikea, but it exhausted us. These shops are intentionally designed as mazes and it's incredibly taxing mentally. We got out as quick as possible and went home.
December 17, 2020
I was still feeling tired today and decided to not sand another ceiling. Instead I moved to the first bedroom, which is fully painted in grey. I was determined to sand the walls as it seemed to me this room was one of the easiest to deal with and I wanted a victory!
Surprise! I didn't get one! I started sanding and the paint would not come off the all. I know you are not supposed to totally remove it, just scratch so the new paint will stick. But these walls were badly painted and appear to have a big grain. I wanted to sand it off to have a flat surface and even with the girafe and an 60 millimeters grain, I could only scratch the surface. I also removed the plinths and discovered broken plaster everywhere. I managed to sand all the walls, brush and clean them after.
Then I turned my attention to this damn corridor. Again, using a cutter and a brush, I cleaned the holes and cracks. The ceiling has a lot of them, particularly because of the polystyrene plates that were glued with coat. I coated as much as I could for more than hour, then fatigue from having the arms up hit me like a truck. I think I did not more than a fifth of the corridor and it made me mad it was so slow.
I ended up thinking I should maybe just plasterboard the whole ceiling. I have dozens and dozens of holes to fix, plus the cracks. It's going to take me hours. I could just drive to the next DIY shop, buy a plasterboard and some glue and with the help of a friend, have it done in one to two hours. I'll think about it.
December 19, 2020
My arms and back hurt so much yesterday! It felt like having ants in the hands for the whole day, so I stayed at home. Today Coralie decided to join me to finish her most favorite activity: pealing wallpaper! I'm glad she enjoys this, as I hate it.
We worked for around 4 hours. She managed to do almost all the kitchen, as well as the last bedroom. On my side, I started fixing the plaster at the wall's bottom in the bedroom and I sanded two days ago. It took quite some time and when I was done, I proceeded to fix the little holes and cracks in the walls. But I soon discovered that... I was NOT going to enjoy these walls if they stayed this way. So I decided to remove the paint grain by coating the entire walls with a very thin layer of plaster. I only managed to do one of the walls but I was happy with the result. Now the surface doesn't show any grain or roughness. I'll sand them with a thin grain to make sure it stays flat.
While Coralie was finishing her job, I went to the kitchen and finally removed the last glass wallpaper, feeing the last wall. Again, it took time as some parts were heavily glued and hard to access.
When we went home Coralie was satisfied but exhausted. Her back and arms hurt. She went to take a shower, I cooked dinner and she went to bed at 9am.
December 20, 2020
Back again today with Coralie. She was determined to finally remove all the wallpaper in the last corners of walls. She also fought her fear of heights and used the stepladder to get at the top of walls.
As for me, I sanded the walls in the bedroom I plastered yesterday. I used a smaller grain and it worked well, I now have a smooth wall. We went home quite early as we were tired from yesterday and wanted to have some tea.
December 21, 2020
Today I stayed at home! I was tired and wanted to work on the kitchen plans. I think I spent something like 2 and a half hours just drawing plans and checking furniture? I'm kinda lucky overall: the kitchen is 3 meters by 3 meters and most standard furniture is 60 centimeters wide. So I know I have 5 units to chose for each wall.
But that's not so easy! Should I put the fridge on this side or this side? Is this dishwasher small enough to fit? In the end I'm starting to have an idea of how we'll occupy the space. I don't want a kitchen with furniture going all over the walls. I want them to be around 1,7 meters tall, add some pretty wood on top and finally some plants. But I'm still unsure we'll have enough storage if we don't add cupboards to the walls.
I'll have to take an appointment with a seller. Maybe there are obvious solutions I'm not seeing.
December 22, 2020
Alone today! I want to finish the bedroom and to do so, I inspected the paint and plaster cracks in the ceiling. First it wasn't so bad. The building is 60 years old, so of course things moved and cracked. But then I found another crack, and this one... was not a crack, it was an entire one square meter of plaster that was not glued to the wall at all. So I had to remove all of it and I'll need to re-plaster it. I'M SO SICK OF PLASTER.
This ceiling was full of cracks and is now full of holes. Then I sanded it and it went OK. No other major discovery outside some humidity traces but I'm not surprised, I'll treat them later.
December 23, 2020
Home alone again today. My friend Philippe agreed to help and will come tomorrow so instead of finishing the bedroom ceiling, I sanded the other bedroom. Ceiling, walls, everything! I also removed screws and plinths and cleaned everything. I inspected the ceiling in our future office. Some placed seemed cracked, but it was in fact paper! Finally a room with something made correctly. The previous owner applied a ready to paint wallpaper on this ceiling before painting.
I decided to not remove it and just fix the small holes there and there, if that's possible of course.
December 24, 2020
Went to the DIY store to buy more plaster, masks and cutters. Philippe joined me early in the afternoon and started to fix all the little holes and scratches in the second bedroom. As for me, I geared up again and sanded the ceiling of the bathroom. This one was easy and allowed me to check the humidity problems. Overall everything seems ok except for one corner where the bath was. I treated it with a special product and outside one or two paint cracks, I won't have a lot to do, which is a relief!
I moved to the office and removed screws and plinths. Once again the plaster behind the plinths is very old and breaks easily, so I'll have to fix it. I scratched it as much as I could to avoid falling pieces. Then I cleaned everything and we stopped early to go home and prepare dinner!
I was so happy to have help today. It's not that I mind being alone but being two, one sanding and the other plastering, makes the whole renovation project go super fast.
December 26, 2020
Small day! Since it's the holydays, I wanted to avoid mankind noise on a Saturday so I just went to do some plastering. I don't think I've mentioned it before but I've been listening to Darknet Diaries while working, an amazing podcast telling stories about hackers, penetration testing and many other things.
So, while listening, I plastered the holes in the first bedroom. The small ones, that are mostly paint or cracks, went ok. The big one, almost a square meter large and half a centimeter profound was super hard to work on. The bucket of plaster I bought on the 24 is almost empty and I'm not sure I made it correctly since it's hard to make a flat surface when it's so large.
I also treated again the mold traces there and there. They went easily in the kitchen where the plasterboard is easy to clean. It's more complicated in angles and plaster where some of them went off, but not all. I'll have to redo it again next time.
Went home to learn that a storm named Bella will hit our city tonight. Unfortunately I didn't close the shutters so I had to go back and seal everything.
December 28, 2020
The clock is ticking! I have the giraffe and the vacuum cleaner until January 5 so I need to get all the walls and ceilings done.
Today I started with the third bedroom, our future office. The fixes I did on the ceiling seemed OK. I filled all the screw holes and redid all the plaster at the bottom of walls, where the plinths were. Those plasters parts were among the most broken I've seen in the apartment and it took me around an hours to do everything in the room.
Then I sanded the ceiling in the second bedroom, as well as the walls. Those are the walls Philippe worked on and I was eager to see them sanded as... It makes the walls feel so clean! It's such a joy to witness walls without holes inside them, totally smooth! But still, there were some work left to do. First, some holes escaped our vigilance, so I filled them. I also redid the plaster where the old plinths were, fixed a corner and a small crack at the ceiling. I'll probably do a smoothing plaster on these walls tomorrow as they are almost ready for it.
I finished my day with the first bedroom and was quite relieved. Most of the plaster I added to fix cracks on the ceiling is OK. The only problem is, I did not put enough, which creates some dips. It was to be expected since some parts were almost a centimeter deep. After sanding again, I cleaned with a broom and redid plaster to achieve a flat surface. I'm not 100% sure it will be good enough, maybe I'll have other fixes to do before calling it done.
Overall a productive day, which quite surprisingly I spent without listening to any music or podcast. I also finally got the moves to work with plaster, and understood the importance of mixing it to make it more sticky and easy to work. Oh, talking about plaster, I'm almost at 15 kilograms of hole fixing plaster since I started the project. If I had know I would use so much, I would have bought a big bucket from the start.
December 29, 2020
I was feeling a bit weak today and decided to move forward some tasks that didn't involved wearing a mask and carrying a gigantic sanding machine. First I tried the smoothing plaster on a wall and... it went OK I guess? This plaster is way more liquid and dries super fast, making it hard to do some corrections. I tried only applying a small coat on the first wall, and a more thick one on the second. We'll see once sanded what is the result.
After this I moved to the living room and started enlarging the ceiling cracks. There were a lot of them but fortunately, there were no big plaster surface detached from the wood blanks that compose the basis of the ceiling. I detected two huge cracks going from one side of the room to the other and enlarged them. I'll plaster them soon.
Finally, I did the same in the kitchen. There was a crack that went from the window to behind the door. It was only fixed on the surface by the previous owner. I digged deeper inside it to be sure we well have enough depth so it won't crack again. The crack also went through the light location and almost all the plaster around it came off.
I cleaned everything while listening to the Haven soundtrack by Danger, it was super cool. I also listened to the Full Stack Radio episode with DHH talking about their new web stack, it was interesting. Tomorrow I'll go buy more filling plaster (a big bucket this time!) and will restart the sanding process.
December 30, 2020
A productive day!
It all started with a trip to the DIY shop, a trip that led to many interrogations. You see I've been using filling plaster for weeks now, always the same brand and type. Each time I thought ok this is enough and each time I had to go back and buy more. So this time I was determined to buy the BIG BUCKET. So I arrived at the stored, rushed straight for it and, took the bigger bucket and... it was light.
Like, incredibly lighter than the previous bucket I bought. I thought what the hell, is this a demo bucket? So I picked another. Light too. Is it a version where you have to put water in? No, it's written on it, paste plaster. I thought I was going nuts, so I weighed another bucket from another brand. This 3 kilograms bucket was heavier than this supposed 5 litters bucket. WHAT IS GOING ON. I thought forget about the bigger bucket, take the usual one... But there were none left.
Suddenly someone from the shop comes around and said "I think you have questions about plaster". So I took the bigger bucket, showed it to him and murmured why is it so light I don't understand. He laughs and told me it was a lighter version of the plaster. A more modern one, made of micro balls, easier to use. So I took it (it wasn't more expensive) and went to the apartment.
I was so curious I wanted to see what it looked like so I opened the bucket and found something that looked like... Coconut foam dessert?! I stared at this thing for almost 10 seconds in disbelief. How was this thing supposed to replace traditional plaster? But well, that's all I had so I grabbed the stepladder and decided to fill the cracked I expended on the living room ceiling. And it was... interesting? It's way easier to apply and it sticks a bit better. You also don't have to mix it as much as traditional plaster.
I filled all the cracks in the living room, then moved to the kitchen where I did the same. On large cracks, this type of plaster is way easier to use and I was done super fast. I then moved to the bedroom with problematic ceilings, started the sander and sanded again the plaster from my previous attempts at making a flat surface. It was, again, not good on the 1 square meter part and this ceiling is starting to drive me nuts. So again, I had to re-plaster it (this time with the coconut foam type) and I hope that tomorrow, when I sand it, again, it will be the last time I have to do this (I'm angry at a ceiling, yes).
Moved to chamber 2 and started sanding the walls I plastered with smoothing plaster. I had to use a smaller grain with the sander in order to remove the small edges and holes. And it turns out the better strategy was a thin layer of this plaster, not a thick one. The thicker one had too many hollows due to my lack of skill with the spatulas. The good news is: I now have my first smooth and ready to paint wall! And it's so smooooooth when you touch it.
Galvanized by this incredible win, I smooth plastered the other walls of the room with a thin layer. It was hard, as the walls were way bigger and the plaster kept drying. I moved fast and was able to finish everything when the night fell.
I think I spent the whole day listening to a single song from the Haven soundtrack. First, it was because I enjoyed it. Then because I was stuck with my gloves, my helmet, glasses and equipment and could not reach my phone in my pocket. But it didn't really bothered me.
Tomorrow: I'll probably prepare more walls for smoothing plaster. As I'm not supposed to do noisy renovation work on January first, I'll prepare as many walls as I can and sand them on saturday.
December 31, 2020
Today my goal was to prepare as much walls as I could for future coating. But first, I wanted to see the result of the previous walls, so I sanded them and I was quite happy with the result. Even if there's a few scratches left in some places it's such a huge progress compared to the initial state of the walls. The damn square meter ceiling hole is getting better but after sanding it, I could see it wasn't quite there too, so I had to re-plaster it again. I hope this time will be the last. As for the other ceilings, I sanded them all and except for one part where the coconut foam plaster was not dry and came off, the rest is good. I only patched a few scratches that I missed.
After this I kept sanding everything I could find. I sanded the last bedroom walls, the corridor walls, the corridor ceiling as well as the entrance. This way I'll have enough surface to plaster tomorrow. Came home earlier than I expected to celebrate the new year.
January 1, 2021
Happy new year! It's plaster day! And damn, I had no stamina or energy when I arrived at the apartment. I was thinking of doing at least one room and the corridor, but ended up with only one wall. The plaster was drying faster than I could apply it, the wall being clearer than the others, it was hard to see where I already applied plaster. In some cases, I undid what I previously did and it made me angry.
After one hour and one wall I called it a day and came back home. I was tired, hungry and demotivated. I called Marc and he assured me I could probably keep the sander and the vacuum cleaner until Tuesday next week, and also take them again later if needed. I'll try to finish everything and clean by Tuesday. I want the place clean for when the electrician starts his work.
January 3, 2021
I took a few days to rest and recharge and now... I'm okay I guess.
So today I went back and started a plastering extravaganza. My goal was simple: plaster as much walls as I can to be able to sand them the next day and return the vacuum cleaner to Marc on Tuesday evening. First I finished the the last bedroom walls. It took more time than I expected but overall it went well. I'm still finding this smoothing plaster hard to work sometimes. It's not liquid enough to do a small layer without, sometimes, making several layers when I scrape.
Once I was done with this room I attacked the corridor, doing all the walls, corners, door frames. Some parts needed filling plaster before smoothing but I was so bored I decided to give it a go and see later. It took again more time than I wanted and when I finished the night was coming and I still had the entrance to do. I was starting to run out of plaster again and felt it was maybe better to stop there.
I listened to the last episode of the very good podcast Les démons du midi which is about video game music. It was a very good choice.
January 4, 2021
Today was a sanding day! The goal? Sand everything that needs it in the bedrooms and corridor and achieve a milestone. So of course I went, of course I put all my equipment, and of course I sanded the last bedroom and the corridor. I don't know if I'm getting used to it and built some muscles but I can sand for a longer period now. It's cool but at the same time it makes more muscles strains than when I was making pauses more often.
I used a small manual sander my father gave me to clean the door frames and corners, as well as some parts where I added too much plaster yesterday. The result is... not as good as the previous rooms I think. I was probably more impatient when I did the last one and the corridor. We'll see how it goes during the painting phase. If there are too much traces, I'll fix them independently instead of plastering all the wall.
I went back to this damn square mater of ceiling and this time, I gently hand sanded it. I feel the plaster if fragile and that I probably didn't employ the best method to fix this. Once I removed most of the holes and bumps, I thought... It was starting to be good. When I entered the room and look at this specific part of the ceiling, it didn't struck me as a big patch of mess like before. Still, it's not perfect yet! So I applied a thin layer of smoothing plaster on it. Maybe it will be the last coat. Crossing fingers!
Finally, I was DONE with the global sanding and plastering for the bedrooms and the corridor. There's still some things to fix there and there but overall, all walls and ceilings are ready for painting. But before that, the whole place needed a good cleaning. There was plaster dust everywhere. So much that I realized the windows where dirty and that I wrote "LOL" in the dust on one of them.
And all this dust, it gave me a feeling of... underachievement? It didn't felt like I achieved a milestone. So I decided to clean all those rooms. I cleaned all the walls with a broom, then vacuumed all the rooms. When I did the first aspiration of dust, I realized oh my, it's true that I bought an apartment with a black floor. I quickly realized that, since I didn't protect the floor, I had splashes of plaster everywhere. It gave me a feeling of undone that bothered my achievement sense!
So of course I took a mop, water and soap, and mopped all the floors, scratching all those plaster stains. It felt like a battle, me versus those little bastards preventing me to achieve my glorious moment of finish! The mop had a too short stick and it broke my back. I think it took me around one hour and three water changes?
BUT THIS IS IT. I HAVE CLEAN WALLS. CLEAN FLOORS. CLEAN CEILINGS. I AM THE KING OF THE WORLD!
January 5, 2020
This is Tuesday and I have to give back the vacuum cleaner to Marc tomorrow! I decided to finish it once and for all and sanded the whole living room ceiling. It took quite some time but went way more smoothly than I thought, I was happy! I sanded the entrance ceiling too.
Once I was done I added water to my almost finished plaster bucket to make it more liquid, then plastered the entrance walls to hide the various holes and scratches.
And now for a perfect finish... I went to the infamous bedroom with it's square meter of plaster. I once again hand sanded it to erase all traces and bumps and I was left with... a finished ceiling. I was so happy and relieved to finally be done with this.
At the end of the day the electrician called me. He will start his work Thursday next week. I can ask for the renovators to come at the end of June to put the plasterboard and finish the walls. Everything seems to be fine!
January 6, 2020
Last day before I take a break! Sanded the entrance walls and cleaned the whole living room area, the entrance and the kitchen. It took a while, as there were a lot of furniture still hanging there. I started moving them downstairs in order to put them at the recycling center.
But after 4 back and forth of 4 floors, I was totally beaten. I knew I should not have done that but my knee started to hurt, so I left old furniture in the staircase near my door. I hope won't bother the neighbor as it's not in his way, but I should have clean this anyway.
I'm thinking of asking friend to come and help put everything down and then I'll drive all this once and for all.
But here we are, I'm done with sanding and plaster! At least until I start doing the kitchen and bathroom. It's such a milestone and I'm so happy.
January 8, 2020
I've been resting a lot for two days. I'm a little sick but today we decided to go back to the kitchen stores to make our final choice. We have to decide where we'll put everything and tell the electrician so he can add the power sockets.
First, we went back to the kitchen I liked. I found nothing new about it but Coralie was... reluctant! She really changed her mind about it. She found it felt cheap. I agree it's not the best kitchen in the world but since we can't spend too much, that's the best we can do.
She wanted to try other handles to see if it was better. It actually worked better for her but not for me. I think we tried or checked almost a dozen handles with different shapes, colors and sizes but something was not working. I can't believe I'm writing this. I feel so OLD with my kitchen handles problem, omagad.
We went out and concluded the best kitchen was probably a fire camp in the middle of the room with a suspended pot and laugh a lot. We didn't know what to do and Coralie needed a frame for a custom print she bought from one of our artist friend, so we went, again, to Ikea.
And that's when the most strange thing of the day happened. We went by the kitchens again, initially to see if we could combine our kitchen choice with Ikea handles. And then, while watching, we stopped by a demo kitchen that was the total opposite of our tastes.
It was a clearer model, with green doors and light wood. There were no handles but knobs, in full wood. We were initially watching the knobs and suddenly we realized... this kitchen was relaxing. It felt lighter, gentler. We were going for anthracite doors with metal handles and now we're here with green doors and wooden knobs? What was going ong?!
We sit there in the demo space and started talking. We realized we were in a full brutalist paradox. It's an expression I found, mocking the fact that a lot of people like brutalist architecture (me included) but few people would be able to live in them.
We have a kitchen with a single window on the north wall. It's one of the darkest places of the apartment and yes, adding black and anthracite furniture on two walls might make it oppressive. On the opposite side of the kitchen demo at Ikea, there was another demo place, full black with a lot of angles, straight lines. I already decided I didn't wanted this but Coralie initially liked it.
Now she looked at it and said "If I was in this kitchen during breakfast, I would have the feeling of making breakfast for the ambassador".
So there we are, stuck between what we like with our brains and what we like with our guts. Now we have to decide which side to go. That means... we still don't know which kitchen to take.
January 9, 2020
We went kitchen hunting today. Thanks to the kitchen gods, it look like all kitchen stores are located in the same area, so we decided to go. What should have been equal time spent in all the store turned into something else. Basically we went to the first one, that is more high end than the others, to get the feeling of what is the top and compare more easily after. But we were met by a seller, a young man that was very polite and natural. A former woodworker that chronic pain in hands forced him to stop, and now he sells kitchen, quite the journey. he asked for a budget. I told him one and he said it was probably not doable for his standards. So we rose the standard a bit just to see what was possible. Oh boy I was not expecting this.
He made us take the grand tour. He described everything. From hinges to laser soldered wood to... waterproof plinths? Everything was top quality (the furniture is guaranteed 10 years, the hinges 20 years) and he demonstrated it by literally standing inside a drawer (he was probably around 70 kilograms) and explaining other things like how everything is more sturdy thanks to specific fabrication, how everything is solvent free, and many, many other things. For a seller he was more genuine than I thought he would be.
We sat and discussed plans, electronics and other things. I explained how our main problem was having enough counter space and storage while conserving low profile furniture. I also wanted things like the oven to not be near the ground, as I'm tall and fed up about crouching all the time. He proposed to make us a plan and a 3D visualization for the next Saturday and we accepted.
This non-planned meeting took us over 2 hours! So, when we were finally out, we were exhausted and we were running out of time. The curfew was starting at 6pm, we had less than one hour to visit the other stores. So we rushed all of them, took a bit of time to discuss with people there when we could, and collect catalogs. We discovered that most sellers had the same basic prices but that options could raise the price significantly from one store to the other.
The most important discovery, I felt, was that most people going to IKEA could actually afford more original and quality products if they just took the time to visit specific stores. It look like either IKEA is more expensive than before, or kitchen makers lowered their prices.
January 14, 2020
First day of electricity, I was excited! Excited but tired, as I had to wake up at 7pm to open the door at 8pm. These days I usually wake up at... 11am.
So the three electricians arrived. We went to each room, placed every electric socket, light switch and Ethernet plugs! And right after, they started removing old sockets, cutting old wires... The metal tubes with the original electrical installation were removed and it was so satisfying. I could see the rooms without those rusted pipes, which made me feel much closer to the end of renovations (it's just a feeling, it's not done lol).
I stayed with them all morning to do more plaster. The entrance ceiling holes were filled, as well as the part of the corridor ceiling that will soon be in one of the chambers. I plan to sand them soon and maybe I'll add smooth plaster. I also fixed little things while answering questions about the apartment.
January 15, 2020
Small day today! We went with Coralie, so she could finish peeling the wallpapers inside the toilets. Meanwhile I started sanding the kitchen door frame and plinths to see how they reacted. My initial goal was to try to sand until the wood was visible. No luck, the wood was covered by a resin, and this resin was then painted several times over the years, resulting in a supet thick coat that all plinths and door frames have. It will be a nightmare to sand all these frames, especially because some have sculptural details.
While I was pesting and wasting sanding paper, I asked Coralie to plaster the holes inside the toilets. She was... reluctant. Actually no, she was not enjoying plaster. She accepted and finished, but when we went home I could feel she was still bothered by it. I asked and she told me she hated doing plaster. It was like a gut hate!
January 16, 2021
Today was the big meeting to see what the kitchen maker decided. We had a meeting at 2pm and left at 5:30 pm, so it took quite a time! First he presented us with a general look and he made some changes we were surpised about.
The biggest change between my plans and his was the induction cooker and extractor hood. He positioned them on the right side, while I was putting them on the left side to keep more counter space. His idea was that the cooker plate was that it made more sense to be able to prepare your food and just reach out directly to cook them. He also made the counter go upside the drying dryer, which added counter space. The only non-counter space is the fridge in the corner near the window, the place with the least amount of light. Of cours he added several drawers, and also a free space to put the cat litter.
On the other side, there's a cellar type column 160 tall, with internal drawers to put all our food and bottles. Next to it is another column with the microwave and the oven. Both are at the top of the column, which mean I won't have to crouch to use the oven. And of course there's a sink with space on each side (nice) and under it, a closet and the dishwasher. The counter goes to the wall, between the hot water tank and the washing machine.
Once the presentation was done, we travelled through the shop to see each piece individually. I also suggested we changed the wood aspect to something clearer. The wood tone was too noisy to my taste. We also had to choose handles. I've never so old than when it took us 20 minutes to choose handles for kitchen cabinets. We also saw the oven, extractor and other things.
And finally, the price. It was, of course, expensive. Not much more than going to IKEA, probably a quarter more expensive I think. I was prepared for the price and overall the maker respected our budget. But I wasn't sure. It felt like a caprice to spend more money than necessary. It felt unreasonable. We had to take some time with Coralie to talk about this, which the kitchen maker agreed. She told me deciding right now, without going to other shops to ask for more quotes, was probably not the right thing to do. And of course she was right.
But I liked it.
It's stupid, we're talking about a kitchen. But I felt this proposal would make this space practical and relaxing. I liked this idea. I've always had this issue that I feel I don't deserve better, just the norm. That I should not even try making it better, and accept that this is how things are. A kitchen is just the place where you cook, why bother making it better? An old habit of my money-less days of thinking about practicality without considering my own well-being, tastes and desires. At this moment, I felt I should not fall into this self-deprecation trap.
Also, the kitchen maker took time and found solutions to most of our problems while respecting the budget I asked. He exceeded my expectations. I felt his professionalism and service deserved payment. Thanks to him, we knew how to fix our problems. Leaving and asking the same thing to someone else for cheaper using his expertise would be extremely unrespectful. As a former seller that had his fair share of bad clients, and as a professional that thinks expertise and service deserves payment, I didn't want to this kind of people I despise.
I know a lot of people don't have this chance, but I can do freelancing, high paying work when I need money. I prefer working a few days more to earn money, instead of losing several hours in different stores, create a contest between them, waste everyone's time, compare quotes, hunt for the lowest price on the internet, and finally announce who is the winner. Organizing a competition to save a bit of money is not my thing.
And finally, I decided upfront when I bought the apartment that this whole project should be done respecting my own standards, way of thinking, physical and mental capabilities. I've spent a lot of time and money already to do things in what I consider is the right way of renovating this place. I did not cover broken walls, I fixed them. I decided to insulte to prevent humidity problems, not hide them with paint. I'm fixing the electricity so it can last and be safe.
So why was I trying to compromise for the kitchen?
So yeah, I went back and accepted the quote. The maker will come monday to make measurements. I'll have a green tea, long lasting, eco-friendly, made in France kitchen. I felt it was the right choice.
January 18, 2021
I went to the apartment this morning to open the door for the kitchen maker so he can take measurements for the furniture. While he was working I started removing plinths from the door frames. Behind them I found the junction between the walls and the wooden door frame. It's most of the time in good shape but the wood clearly moved in some parts, leading to gaps.
I removed the frame inside the kitchen, sanded it and plastered it. I'm not sure how it will look like so I'll let it rest for two days and then go back and sand and see if I enjoy the result. I hope I will, as I don't want to sand all those door frame plinths.
When the kitchen maker was done I left.