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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tear Down That Wall

Ever since we moved into our house seven years ago, I have wanted to renovate our kitchen. The walls, floor and countertops are so neutral that their very blandness offends. Dark-stained trim invades the room, outlining the ceiling, the soffit, the doors, and bisects the walls in the form of a chair rail. The overall affect is to look like a coloring book that has yet to be touched...just aching to be colored in, if only by a two-year old wielding a fat Crayola.

Room by room, we've painted and carpeted, refinished floors, and bought new furniture. And when we were finally ready to do the kitchen--and combine it with the other most-used room in the house, the family room--we had a huge flood in the basement, and all effort and resources went into fixing up that mess. We wound up creating a finished room down there, but were still left with the unused coloring book of a kitchen.

That was two years ago, and finally...finally, we're getting the kitchen and family room we've always wanted.  Of course, it's a lot of work, and even though we're not replacing cabinets or floors, there are still a lot of details and things to be done: removing our fireplace (the chimney flue is damaged and unusable and we didn't need it), replacing our family room window (for something more energy efficient), taking out part of the wall between the kitchen and family room to open up the space, replacing the counters, putting in a new sink and stovetop, and generally making the rooms more livable.

Now, with all that upheaval, and workmen coming and going, the big question needs to be asked: what do we do with the animals? This process will take weeks. And we have one scaredy cat (Dawn), one way-too-curious cat (Athena), a skittish dog (Lilah), a dog who is everybody's best friend (Jasper) and a dog who is very, very Helpful (Tucker.)

So, what to do?

Well, the answer is a bit complex, as would be expected.

During the noisy destruction phase, when folks were tearing down walls and breaking down the fireplace into itty bits, Dawn and Athena went to visit my good friends Patty and Dave. For Dawn, it was a trip to hell; she spent the entire time hiding under the couch. We actually had to go rescue her and bring her home because she didn't eat for almost 36 hours. Athena, on the other paw, with no smelly dogs to bother her, and Dawn essentially out of the way, thought Patty and Dave's place was a palace--her palace to be precise. She was treated like the queen she knows she is...and she stayed an extra day because she was so happy, and Patty and Dave just spoiled her rotten.

In past posts, I've written about how Lilah used to be terrified of all kinds of things, including tools and noises and new people bringing scary items into the house. She's much better now, but we figured she'd be better somewhere else during the really noisy bits. And Jasper (everybody's Friend) and Tucker (everybody's Helper) would probably get in the way as workmen were hacking things apart and carting them outside. So, the three pups got to spend a day at a home-based doggy day care run by The Pet Professor, Jamie Levin.

A friend hangs out with the gang as I drop them off at doggy day care.

Hours later, I'm there to pick up a tired (and happy) pack of pups.

As everyone came home, each of them discovered the changes in the house. Walls missing. Furniture in the wrong places. Hidey spots gone. And new smells everywhere. Lots to investigate and discuss.

Athena approves of the temporary set up in the dining room, which now contains most of the kitchen furniture. The Cat Shelf (that's what it is, right?) is just the right height to spy on a chipmunk hole. Very Convenient.

The work continues, and the cats spend the day in our bedroom. Dawn doesn't mind; she loves the Underbed Cave. Though it can still be noisy since the family room is directly beneath our bedroom. And Athena claims our bed as her throne...just the right size for a cat of her stature.
Dawn's lair.

The queen-sized bed in our bedroom is appropriately sized for Athena, the Queen.

When there aren't workmen going up and down the stairs to the basement, doing wiring and plumbing work, Dawn finds the basement another appropriate hidey spot. It's particulary attractive, since her kitty condo has been moved down there.

Dawn comes upstairs cautiously. There might still be Unapproved Visitors upstairs. And that would be A Very Bad Thing.

Tucker, for the most part, goes off to puppy camp at Camp Bow Wow; he needs to be occupied. And Jasper and Lilah stay home, find as quiet a corner as possible, and keep an eye on things. All the contractors and workmen who have been through our home have been awesome with the dogs, and we feel lucky and appreciative of the attentiveness. They've all learned to let Lilah Touch Things With Her Nose so she feels better about new items. And they all tolerate Jasper's exuberant welcome, though they are getting better at not petting him until he calms down and maintains four on the floor--feet that is.

Jasper and Lilah inspect Bill the contractor's tools.

Athena must inspect the tools as well.

Bill Farkas (Core Construction), our contractor, and Bonnie Johnson, (BBJ Remodelers) our builder, are so often visitors to our house, that the dogs treat them as family, greeting them with an exuberance that is second only to Grandma and Grandpa.

The dogs, particularly Jasper, just LOVE Bill. Jasper howls with delight when he sees Bill coming. In this photo, the dogs can see him coming up the walk toward the door. Bonnie gets the same treatment when she stops by.

Before the wall came down, we took the buffet away. That left Athena and Dawn confused because that's where they ate their kitteh noms. So they found the closest place to hang out.

Dawn, framed. And hoping for dinner, soon.

With some of the sheetrock removed, Dawn still finds the open frame a good option for resting and waiting for dinner to be served.

Athena has assumed the role of Inspector General. Every day she comes down from the throne and reviews the progress made while she was holding court. I think she is pleased, but it's hard to tell, as she's a Cat.

Athena, Inspector General and Queen.

 The dogs were a bit unsure at first, with all the furniture moved around. But Jasper found the couch. And as long as Mom was in the room, All Was Right. So it was okay to chill out and relax.

"It wasn't me, I swear. I did NOT tear down that wall. Though, come to think of it, it might have been fun."

Lilah, Tucker and Jasper find comfy spots to hang out in what's left of the family room.

We're only a little over two weeks into the project with many more days to go. It is a continuing adventure. Stay tuned for updates.

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