Saturday, July 31, 2010

Ikea Foto Ceiling Light Fixture for Kitchen

While at Malaysia’s only Ikea in Selangor, we also found a ceiling light fixture for the kichen. It is a simple stainless steel design called “Foto” (Malaysia product number 601.258.13) which looks like the industrial lights photographers use or lights in factories. But what makes this fixture seem like it will work well for us is that it is bigger and more exaggerated in size (50cm/20inches wide) than the smaller versions. With the large kitchen we need something substantial. Now we are hoping that it can be installed easily to the pre-existing air conditioner hook on the ceiling. It was inexpensive too at 99myr (the bulb was another 30myr).

Some Kitchen Cabinet Doors in and Rubine Microwave

Yesterday while we were at Ikea in Selangor, B was installing some of the Kitchen Cabinet Doors, the built in Rubine Microwave (from the Stainless Steel Uno Series) and the shelf lighting on the long wall. Our trip to Ikea was to pick up Stainless Steel handles for some of the cabinets and drawers. The only place we could find long handles for the tall pantries was at Ikea (Signature Kitchen wouldn’t sell us their long handles unless we bought our whole kitchen from them and other stores in Seremban didn't have anything). We already bought some cool special order Hava square stainless steel handles for the upper cabinets and the cabinets under the shelves (photos after they are installed) which are a great design.

Exterior Lights Removed

In anticipation that the exterior wall painters would be painting the walls of the house soon, we removed the 6 rusted lights from the front of the house. We plan to replace them with some of those black or stainless steel long cylinder type contemporary lights. We are leaning toward black, but will wait until the house is painted before deciding. We also need two lights for the exterior ceiling, one by the front door and one by the back door. Have been looking for contemporary hanging models that will look good with the cylinder lights on the walls, but can't find anything. The only hanging lights we are seeing in Malaysia are similar to the dated style of the lights we just took off or square wood/metal ones that have a 'tropical' feel (which we aren't going for). I also noticed there are some electrical wires near the wet kitchen, some at the back corner of the house coming out of the roof underhang (I think this is where many houses in the area attach long florescent lighting which we won't do) and some wires up by the side of the front door near the Bunga Kantan plant which could use some spotlights if we can find them.

One thing I keep asking myself is how can these things get so old so fast... the house is only a few years old, yet these fixtures are totally rusted. Or how the roof tiles have become damaged so quick. I guess it is the extreme weather I am not used to.

Below are the kind of lights we are thinking of buying...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Work Continues....

After 8 full days of work the Stainers finally finished. Now B can come in and install the upper Kitchen Cabinet Doors (bottom should wait until after the Corian is installed). He will also work on the shelf lighting and installing the built in Rubine Microwave.

The Roof above the second floor has been painted and now the Exterior Wall Painter will come and do the underhang, timber and exterior house walls on the second level. Once he is complete the roof painters will come back and paint the lower roof and finally the exterior wall painter will do the ground level of the house and exterior walls on the property.

Exterior Wall after fence was removed

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Fence Removal and Kitchen Update

Yesterday we had our neighbor’s decrepit Fence removed from above our wall (after photos soon). Now I have a clearer picture of how it will look when the wall is painted and need to start thinking about what kind of plants/flowers to add to the planters running along the 77 foot wall.

Today is day 7 of the Staining and I asked the stainers this morning how much longer it will be... they said through tomorrow (Wednesday). We do hope they finish because yesterday I drove the Bareno Undermount Sink to Kuala Lumpur and dropped it off at the Corian Countertop Distributer so that they can start to fabricate the countertops. I begged them to work quickly as they said it will take 10-14 working days, let’s hope they can do it faster. The company seemed pretty professional, so I am hopeful we made the right choice. Plus the cabinets seem to be getting darker and darker much to R’s delight. The dark wood will look better with the Corian Glacier White countertop.

Yesterday the Roof people were also here power washing the tiles (which produced some more leaks on our plaster ceiling on the second floor (arrghhh). I wonder if we will ever be leak free, it seems in Malaysia with all the rain, wetness is a regular thing. I have to adjust my oversensitivity to it. Today they arrived at 8AM to start to paint the Roof Tiles. We chose Dulux Roofshield in Idaman Grey 10524. We had to go with Dulux because the tile paint only comes as pre-mixed colors and Nippon did not have a dark grey color close to the existing tile colors. I don’t know if I wrote why we are painting the roof... we hadn’t planned on it, but after the 2nd roof contractor painted spots of dark grey all over our roof when we were away from the house for a few hours to “touch up the holes” we thought it looked extremely junky especially from the second floor. The contractor said that the dark spots would disappear in a couple years, thank you very much.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

Staining Kitchen Cabinets

As I mentioned, B has opted to stain the Kitchen wood doors and cabinets onsite. They have set up shop in the living room and front patio. It is day 4 and they are still staining (first it was sanding). Soon, they will begin to put 3 layers of shellac on the top. We have asked for a matte finish.

Little Spider Hunter Bird

A few days ago I was standing under the carpark at the front of the house when I noticed a very curious bird with a long curved beak fly over to one of the pink Bunga Kantan Flower (Torch Ginger Flower) buds by the house. When in flight, the bird seemed like it was a large Hummingbird, but after it took its place on the bud, I thought it was too big to be a Hummingbird. The bird was pecking his beak inside the holes of the bud in a fast motion. He saw me and continued pecking. I thought he might be trying to get the nectar inside the bud. After a long time I spoke to him and he looked at me and continued not bothered by me at all. Afterwards I searched online and found the bird which is a Little Spider Hunter (photo above from here: ). A few of the photos showed the Little Spider Hunter near Bunga Kantan Flower buds, so I know it is the same bird. It seems they do like to get the nectar out of the plant.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fruit Ripening

From the second floor of our house, where we spend most of our time.... away from the construction on the first floor in the Kitchen or the Roof repair, I noticed some fruit ripening when looking out the windows.

First I spotted from the Home Office window, two Mangos in the large Mango tree in the front yard. This is the first time I have seen any fruit on the tree.

Second the Rambutan tree in our neighbor's backyard and dangling above our brick wall has some fruit ripening; I hope some of these delicious fruits fall into our yard!

Marble No More

A couple days ago we received bad news from the showroom we were buying the Vietnam White marble countertop from. They were calling to tell us that they couldn't find one piece of marble big enough to fit the countertop under the plate and bowl shelves to the left of the refrigerator on the long wall in the Kitchen. The countertop was built based on their confirmation that we could make it up to 7 feet long. B made it under 7 feet by a couple inches. They called and said they wanted to make the top in two pieces and we could not agree.

counter section under shelves

It is an important part of the kitchen and it was based on their measurements!!! This is after they wanted us use a smaller piece on the side by the sink which meant the seam would be right down the center of where the future dishwasher will be (or now where the two shelves under the counter will be) and we first reluctantly agreed to that. Worse though, earlier, they told us they weren't 100% sure that they could make the curve of the undermount sink look good. I was already very skeptical of the whole transaction so this final call turned me off totally and we asked for our deposit back and sink (which had been sent to Malacca).

As we anticipated some issues with the marble (both marble and granite here in Malaysia tend to be harder to get contrators to do a good job, and hard to find nice product... most of the granite available that we saw was ugly 80s style speckled granite in gross colors and small slab sizes). Our backup plan if we ran into problems was to use Corian Solid Surface in Glacier White (see if the marble didn't work out. But it means that we will be over budget. Fortunately, we located the official Corian installer in KL who had workers in Seremban day before yesterday. They came to the house and measured and we are waiting for the quote. It should be about 1,800myr more than what we were paying for the marble. Hopefully, not more. But, what it will do is make the kitchen look better and no seams will show and the sink should be curved nicely. Plus there was no guarantee that the marble wouldn't have chipped or discolored, at least with Corian we have a 10 year guarantee.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Nippon Malaysia Exterior House Paint

So our first attempt for the exterior house color in Nippon was Noble Grey 9572.

It is the sample color in the photo above painted on the wall between the windows second from the right. And in real light looks much too Silvery-grey. So we tried again.

Choosing a more beige color (which was against what we wanted to do) we picked Nippon Cement 9507. And when put on the wall (as pictured above) it looks more grey than beige, which is closest to what we want. So we are going with it, because it looks ok with the green windows which can't be painted (arrggghh!!) and will look ok with the Grey color we are painting the roof tiles.

So we can now choose the timber color (the strip of wood that falls below the roof and above the exterior walls) and also a paint color for the border property concrete walls at the side and front of the house. By the way, the Nippon Cement 9507 can't be mixed as a 5 year color, it has to be made as a Nippon Weatherbond Advance 8 or 10 year color. The price is 115myr which is 5myr more per 5 litres for the 8 year verses ICI pre-mixed at 110myr. We can only hope that it really does last an extra 3 years!

More Bad Color From Dulux

We have been told to go with ICI Dulux Weathershield for the exterior paint on the house, which lasts 5 years. When asked why it is better than Nippon or Jotun no one can give us an answer, just that everybody in Malaysia uses Dulux Weathershield.

So to keep the price down, we decided to pick one of the pre-mixed colors from the chart on the two images below. I chose Zambezi Rocks. But when we paint a sample on the house, it looks more like a color used on a 60s Pataya restaurant. So after wasting some money and getting flustered with Dulux, we decided to try Nippon.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Malaysian Oriole

We were up in our second floor Home Office eating lunch when we heard a loud bird making a pretty song outside our window. We peaked outside and saw an Oriole (from the Oriolidae family) in the tree. Quite a large yellow bird. We went to the Malaysia Birds website and found an image of the yellow bird. The photo here is from Wikipedia.

I didn’t know that for Orioles there are ‘Old World’ and ‘New World’ families. They have the new world type in the US and the old world type in Malaysia, so when I saw the large bird we saw today being called an Oriole, it didn’t look like an oriole I am used to seeing in the US.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Malaysian Lizard

Yesterday as I was opening the back door from the Kitchen to the Wet Kitchen area I spotted a large (large by my stardards) Lizard on the back wall of the property; the wall isn't far from the door or wet kitchen, so I was a bit startled! I've never lived anywhere where lizards are right outside before! I'm fairly sure it was a lizard. I called R and he came downstairs to take a look, he was able to snap two photos before the lizard went hiding inside one of the wall drainage holes. I checked "Malaysian Lizards"online and don't think there are any images of this exact type. The lizard had a snake-like face with a long snake-like tongue that he kept outside his mouth. He looked a bit sinister and scary. We waited for awhile to see if it would emerge, but it did not.

If anyone has any idea what type of lizard this guy is, please let me know. Thanks

Metal Staircase

Gold Staircase after sanding it down (was brighter gold!)

A few days ago we started painting the Metal Staircase because it was black with a gold sponge paint-type pattern applied on top. We were told the designer creating the ‘look’ of the house did it before the house went on the market for sale. Was he responsible for the other hideous colors in some of the rooms like the teal sea-breeze green in the master bedroom (now the home office and now painted bright white)?

We chose Dulux’s Gloss Finish oil based paint in Obsidian Glass (Dulux OONN 13/000). The painting has taken much longer than expected as it is really hard to apply the paint and it doesn’t dry fast. We have finished two coats and a going to add a third on to the top railing later today. Tomorrow we can take the newpaper away and clean up. We like the color, but once again Dulux’s color at home differs from the sample swatch at the hardware store. We were looking for a darker color, but this is OK. Check the color online here. Maybe the Dark Side would have been better.

Using a grey on the metal was reconfirmed when I opened today’s post on CONTEMPORIST showing a house in Evergreen, Colorado built by Entasis Group, a Colorado-based design/build firm. See photo below, have been seeing other staircase railings in dark metal lately too.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cabinet Doors have arrived

The Nyatoh wood cabinet doors have arrived (photos show the back sides - there will be no border on the front of the doors). B said that next they will stain the cabinets and doors onsite. We think it is a bit odd that they are staining the items at the house, but we go along with it.

Sink and Countertops

A few days ago the measurer came to measure the Kitchen for the Vietnam White Marble Countertops. Everything seemed fine, except that he told us he was concerned that the marble cutters would not be able to do a good job on the cutting the curves for the sink (as the sink is an Undermount Sink). This Bareno (at the time of writing, the Bareno MY website was down so no link available, but here is a image of the product... we paid 679myr sink has been the source of a few problems. Initially we weren’t sure if we should buy it because B told us that the standard countertop width for countertops in Malaysia is 23 ½” deep, which is too narrow for this big sink. He said that getting granite or mable wider than 23 ½”would be hard in Malaysia. Not true we thought, because we found a showroom in Seremban selling “table-top” countertops which are slats of 3 feet wide by 7-8 feet long pieces. So we could just use a number of table-top pieces to form the kitchen countertops or we could always order Corian solid surface which could be made in a wider size (for more cost)... so we went for the Bareno mainly to have the side sink where we can add a metal basket for drying dishes (this is temporary until we get our dishwasher installed later). Now we have given the sink to the showroom and they have sent it to Malacca where they will cut the marble trying to match the curves in the sink. I am very skeptical about the whole thing, but Corian would cost an extra 2,000myr and technically marble especially this pretty white pattern we found is very beautiful and will look great in the kitchen. If it is done right, it will make the kitchen look a lot richer for less cost. If cut wrong, the marble will be a disaster. We also weren’t given any assurance that all of the marble pieces will look nice next to each other. The marble, they tell us is predominantly white 95% or so, with slight areas of grey mixed throughout 5%. We aren’t sure how grey it will actually be, or if the dark parts will be near the seams causing bad match of pattern. With all of the crappy workmanship we’ve encountered, we brace ourselves for the worst.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Malaysia Tile Roofs

I mentioned we are on our second roof contractor... the first wasn’t really doing the work needed. While the house hasn’t been lived in, the tile roof has still been exposed the hot sun and heavy rain for a few years. To make matters worse, the houses in this development were built with too low of a slope which has caused leaks. In order to fix the problem the pitch of the roof at all the corners needs to be raised. So we have reluctantly hired the second group to rip open the roof and fix it so we shouldn’t have any problems in the future (I write this with only a small amount of hope because the weather conditions in Malaysia are harsh). We are doing it now to stop any leaks before we paint any more of the plaster ceilings (have already done the master bedroom, dressing room (walk in closet) and our home office).

Kitchen Progress

All of the main kitchen cabinet bodies have been installed in the kitchen, as well as the wood top which will hold the Vietnam White marble countertop. A stainless steel skirting along the floor still needs to be added to the sink and stove side of the room.

B created the three thick shelves for my dish and bowls. Other kitchen contractors who we met weren’t too excited to make these, it is one of the reasons we chose B to make the cabinets.

What R and I find interesting is that B has opted to stain the cabinet bodies and Nyatoh solid wood doors onsite when they are ready. He said staining the doors when they arrive will allow him to better match the cabinet body nyatoh wood with the cabinet doors (we wonder how staining onsite will work... the smell and the mess etc.). One other interesting thing, if you look at the photo under the shelves you can see the electrical outlets which in my opinion are pretty high up above where the countertop will be. If I hadn't asked, B would have placed these plugs immediately under the first shelf. I asked him to place them a couple inches above where the backsplash will be located, but you can see he still placed them higher. He said it is because the plugs in Malaysia have a thick heavy cord at the bottom which go straight down and can not be twisted; this is true, but it does not require the electrical plugs to be placed halfway up the wall. He then told me that Malaysia construction regulation requires all kitchen electrical sockets to be 5 feet above the floor (he said my lower plugs were ok because this isn't a new house, but a renovation). I asked him if the height requirement has something to do with keeping the sockets off the ground or away from water or why? He said he didn't know why, it is just the way it is in Malaysia.

The Hood and Upper Cabinets

Last week the Hood (Zen TSC HD 636 D from the Tuscani ‘Zen Collection’) was installed along with a plaster duct leading outside. We couldn't go through the back wall or the ceiling, so we had to make a plaster duct. Also the upper kitchen cabinets bodies were added.