Homestead Experience Cont.
The kitchen make over is moving forward.  At Lowe's I
was able to find pre fab counter tops which could be
made to fit my existing cabinets.  The upper left photo
shows the cabinets after being painted white, and with
the new counter tops.  The photo on the upper right
shows the new stainless steel double deep sink, and
the new faucet.

In the upper left photo you can see the island has a new
top.  This top is only temporary.  My plan is to raise the
over all height of the island and replace with a much
wider top.  I could not find a pre fab counter top that
would meet my requirements, so I will need to special
order one.  The cost of this is about $500., so it will be
put off for the time being.  For now, I have made a island
top from the left over pieces after completing the
cabinet tops.
One of my other big projects in
the house involved the fireplace.
On the right you can see a
photo of what the original
fireplace looked like.  The front
was a faux lava rock looking
material, and the mantel was
just a rough piece of cedar.  My
wife thought the fireplace made
the house look very dated, and
she wanted it to have a make
over.  I looked at tearing the faux
rock off of the wall, and quickly
found out this wasn't going to
work.  The rock panels had
been screwed and glued to the
plywood frame of the fireplace,
and it would require tearing
everything completely out in
order to remove the faux rock.
Since I could not remove the faux lava rock, I had to find a
way to deal with it.  My wife told me to just paint it the
same beige color as the walls, but I knew this would not
be an acceptable solution.  My first thought was to simply
mortar over the lava rock, but this idea didn't work at first.
 The rock is so porous and uneven that I could not trowel
on the mortar.  Then I had a really good idea to use a
method used in adobe construction.  I placed a drop cloth
on the floor beneath the fireplace.  The floor was still bare,
but I didn't want any clumps of mortar to be stuck to the
floor boards.  This could cause issues later when I got
ready to lay carpet.  Anyway, after covering the floor with
plastic, I brought in my wheel barrow and mixed up a
large batch of ready mix.  I made the mortar the
consistency of a sticky mud pie, and once completed I
took a handful at a time,  worked it into a mud ball in my
hand, then standing about 10 foot away from the wall I
threw the ball of mortar against the faux rock with a good
deal of force.  It took me a few minutes to get the
consistency of the mortar just right, but once I did I was
able to throw baseball size wads of mortar against the
wall without any of it coming off.  I continued throwing
balls of mortar against the faux rock until the entire front
of the fireplace was covered.  Oh, I forgot to add that
before I began applying mortar I had removed the
wooden mantel.
Here I've started throwing the
mortar against the faux lava
rock.
After completely covering the faux lava rock with the
balls of mortar, I took my hands and began smoothing
out the surface of the mortar.  Working with mortar can
be very hard on your hands, so I always wore a pair of
rubber gloves while handling the mortar mix.  I found
that I could wet the rubber gloves, then rub my hands
over the mortar and get a nice smooth texture.  
Because the faux lava rock was so uneven, it would
have required me to build up a very thick layer of
mortar to even out the surface, so instead of trying to
get everything even and flush, I simply wanted a nice
smooth surface.  In my opinion it came out very nice.  
The outer surface is fairly smooth, but it still has a
rustic stone appearance.  After the mortar was finished
to my liking, I let it dry for several days before doing
anything else to it.  As you can see in the photo on the
right, the front of the fireplace smoothed out very
nicely.  Eventually I will either tile over the mortar, or
simply paint it a beige color as my wife originally
wanted.
Most of the demolition is finished.  As I had mentioned previously, in order to save money I had
been piling all of the demo debris in the driveway until I was finished.  I called and had a large
dumpster delivered, and I had two weeks to fill it before the company came and picked it back up.
 As you can see in the above photos, the dumpster was pretty large, and I filled it up about as full
as it could be.  
The house is coming along nicely, and it's time to put down some flooring.  Originally my wife and
I had decided we wanted wood floors through out the house.  I started shopping around and
doing the math, and once again found out what we wanted just wasn't in the budget.  Not to
mention, it was going to take me quite a long time to get all of that wood flooring installed by
myself.  We started looking at options and decided it might be best if we put carpet through out
most of the house, and vinyl in the rest.  Once again I found myself back at Lowe's.  They had a
special going where my entire install cost would only be $69. for the entire house.  My wife found a
nice stain resistant carpet she liked, and a vinyl floor that looked very much like actual tiles.  We
had just enough money left in our budget to pay for the materials and labor, so we went ahead
and purchased it.  In the above pictures you can see the vinyl flooring after it was installed.  We
put the vinyl flooring in the kitchen and breakfast area, the laundry room, both bathrooms, and the
front entry way.
Today I installed a couple of light fixtures in the home.  The picture in the middle shows the new
light installed over the island.  Previously there was a 3 foot fluorescent light installed here.  The
pictures on the left and right  show the large 9 light fixture I installed in the dining room.  I also
installed a decorative medallion on the ceiling above the fixture.  Previously a ceiling fan and light
were installed in this location.   
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