Neubau Progress: VIII

After Kay’s visit with the tile guy at the beginning of February, we waited a long time until we went to the flat again.

We never received updated bathroom plans and many of the details were wrong or outdated, so by March I was starting to worry about where I would reach for my toilet paper while sat on my throne. Like, lay awake at night and worry how hard it will be to reach the loo paper kind of worrying.

Luckily Kay called and was able to set up an appointment at the end of April to come be super anal and decide exactly where my toilet paper holder goes among other things. I was very excited to see the flat for the first time since installing the floors, tiles, kitchen cabinets… practically everything!

Guest bathroom.

No doors in the shower yet, but it was exciting to see our bathroom cabinet there. Yes, I opened it to test it out. 🙂

Guest bedroom:

Not much changed in here. The floors were all covered up with paper to protect them.

The fuse box in the hallway.

The reduit (pantry) where you can see the uncovered, albeit, dirty wood floors. Looks like we’ll have cleaning to do when we move in!

From the living room out onto the balcony where we saw they are now installing our tiles.

Kay surveys the living room… checking out that kitchen hole again!

Sockets were in, but not mounted.

Some things like the temperature control were already installed though. This is in the kitchen, right where I sort of wanted to put a bar table. I guess it won’t really work if there’s a light switch in the way. :/

And our beloved kitchen hole. Still there. (Not impressed.)

At this point, Kay alerted the local fire brigade about the problem so they could come in and check it out. The contractor promised it will still be fixed, but I was happy knowing that a third party was checking it out. They had better fix it!

But how exciting, our kitchen!

The floor was not in yet, nor the tiles on the walls… but I was very happy to see the new granite and white cabinets. 🙂

And of course, our new fancy sink! Looking good! I’m almost excited to wash large pans in here.

Trash system not installed below the sink yet:

Our kitchen drawers. Squee!

And a view to the balcony with our tiles coming along. We didn’t get to choose the outside tiles, but I think they’ll be just fine.

Another of the living/dining room from the other side.

Temperature controls in the living room:

Our bedroom:

We also found that they had installed the hallway closets, but there was this weird gap in the wall where our outlet is. We need access to the outlet from the closet because Kay plans on sticking all our routers and internet stuff in there, so if they don’t sort out this problem, we’ve spend hundreds on a worthless outlet!

(To the left you see the outlet hole and to the right is the side of the built-in-wardrobe…)

And inside the wardrobes I was surprised to see shelves and rods!

Yay, storage! I’m going to enjoy it, because we sure as heck aren’t going to have wardrobes in our bedroom when we move in. I’ll have to wait for those… 🙁

Whelp, at this point I got distracted by talking with the worker about where exactly to install our bathroom components, so I didn’t actually take any pictures of that. But rest assured, we put everything in sensible places. I decided not to have the toilet paper roll mounted on the wall behind the toilet because that drives me nuts, so we’ll either glue it to the side of the bathroom cabinet or use a freestanding toilet paper holder.

Want to catch up?

Neubau Progress: Walls, Woodwork and Everything Else

Maybe I glossed over it in previous posts, but throughout the bathroom and kitchen upgrades, we were thinking about the overall look of the house the whole time.

The contractor gave us several cost neutral “free” choices and from there we could choose if we wanted to upgrade to a different material for our floors, kitchen cabinets, bathroom tiles, etc. It would be very easy to sink several thousand francs into upgrades, so we really tried to stick to materials included in our base price.

In fact, I was sure that from the granite to choose from below, we would go with Shiva Black because it was free and what we wanted (black), however, when we went to the kitchen store to view the granite in person, Shiva Black just looked… well, boring. We opted to upgrade to Nero Marcus (maybe not the version below) that had a much better texture and glints of texture that caught your eye in the sunlight.

For kitchen cabinets we really kept it simple because not only would it cost a lot to upgrade all of them, but Kay hates cleaning our current super shiny “glanz” cabinets because they show every fingerprint. So for this we stuck to basic, Swiss white.

In the bathrooms and kitchen we would have tile and since, again, we did not want to spend a few thousand upgrading to complete black, we opted for the proCasa 342a below, which is a darker grey in reality. We figured that in the kitchen especially, having dark countertops and floors would be balanced by the white cabinets.

When I first saw the parquet options I knew that Kay would want “Eiche” and I would want “RĂ€uchereiche” or “smoked oak”. But I didn’t think Kay would ever agree to such a dark wood, so I thought maybe we could settle in the middle with Merbau. Sure enough… his first suggestion was the Eiche, or oak.

I was pretty set on Merbau until we actually saw it in real life. It was not nearly pretty as below. It was a cheap-looking wood with many dark spots and specs that I did not care for. Surprisingly, both of us agreed that our very favorite wood was the oiled smoked oak, which is available below in a fishbone pattern.

When we actually went to the flooring business they told us that for less money, we could have the oiled smoked oak without the fishbone, which Kay is not particularly a fan of. He thinks it is too old fashioned, so I agreed we should get normal grain wood.

The salesman explained the difference between laminated wood and oiled wood and we were pretty sold on the oiled wood. It’s more natural, easier to buff out scratches and you can re-oil and re-stain it over the years as it lightens. To be honest, all of the laminated cost-neutral options seemed kind of lame once we learned the benefits of oiled wood.

Above is our bathroom cabinets veneer with the wood. They’ll never be in the same room, but they are more or less in line with each other. The planks of wood will also be this width throughout the apartment.

Below is the plan showing where the wood flooring will be installed and where the tiles will be installed. At first when we received our plan, they left the wood out of the pantry in the middle, so it was important to check that they put it everywhere they should!

With the flooring salesman we also discussed which direction the wooden planks will travel in. We thought it would make more sense for them to travel down the length of the living room, longwise, but the guy explained that wood flooring looks much better when the light coming through the windows travels down the wooden plank, so we set up the wood to travel that direction in all the rooms.

Again, when Kay had the meeting with the tile guys he had them set up the direction of the tile in the same way as the wood flooring to match.

Our flooring choices are a bit dark, but with all the white on the walls and cabinets I think it will be a nice balance. Next we can decide if we really want to do a black/red/white theme like we did for our wedding or if we want to branch into other colors like teal, green, etc… Maybe some mood boards are in our future.

Lastly, when we decided everything for the bathroom we actually had to pick out a sink for the cellar washing area and decide if we wanted to spend a ridiculous amount on the drying system below. The answer is “no”. But we are “splurging” (or being swindled, based on how you view it) for the garage storage box because I think that will be important for anyone who has a car in our parking spot down the road.

So, that’s that. Besides worrying about my toilet paper holder, I think almost all of the flat decisions have been made at this point.

Want to catch up?

Neubau Progress: VII

I was really worried that after January, we wouldn’t be able to see our flat again until it finished in May, but in February, Kay visited the flat for an appointment with the tile guys in the bathroom.

He noticed that in addition to the big hole we found in the kitchen, they had also drilled further into the hole outside the kitchen door. Not impressed.

Kay met with the tile guys and told them which direction we wanted the tiles to go. We also decided that since they fit perfectly on the ledge, we would use the black floor tiles on the bathroom ledge above the sink as well.

Kay sent me pictures of how the tiles would be direction-wise and he explained to me that they would be setup subway style as opposed to straight grid lines.

Kay also asked me on the phone if I was really sure I wanted white grouting on the walls, because it would cost more. Yep. I want white, white, white so I can see any dirt or grout on my bathroom walls. I think we can spare the minimal cost of upgrading here.

We also specified that we wanted the darkest grout available for the floor to match the floor tiles. My mother always had a hard time keeping the light grout in her kitchen tiles clean so I definitely didn’t want that to be an issue for us.

The rest of the flat was still kind of a crazy mess. Since they drilled the utility shaft so late, everything was a bit behind in the kitchen installation. We were also exchanging our steamer to upgrade some more, at a special, extra additional cost on us… but whatever. I was going to get my temperature controls!

Kay also snapped a photo of our curtain rails.

Small details like this are something that the company sort of glossed over, but I would wake up in the middle of the night and wonder if we have to pay to install something ourselves or if it comes standard with the flat. I was happy to see them installed.

As you can see, they are the standard double curtain rail in Switzerland. We don’t normally have fancy curtain rods, but instead these minimalistic flush curtain rails with a track for sheer privacy curtains and another for heavier blackout curtains.

Our fuse box was still a hot mess.

Here they’d already marked on the floor which direction the tiles would be laid.

And since he was there, Kay went down to the floor below ours and checked our our kitchen hole from below.

Argh, just what are they doing in the kitchen?

I think this is the flat below ours where you can see they unfortunately had already installed the kitchen cabinets when they realized they’d forgotten the utility shaft.

Well well, no point stressing when there’s nothing we can do. We just had to wait and hope they patch it all up correctly… At least our tiles will be the right color and grouting after asking three times and going to this appointment!

Want to catch up?

Neubau Progress: Kitchen

Our first shared kitchen was a sink, hob and small counter top on one wall of our living/dining area, which actually seems big if you compare it to many New York City kitchens. I was excited when we moved to our current flat with its U-shaped kitchen off the living/dining area, I was very happy to be getting a huge upgrade in counters space. I mean, we’d even have room for our microwave! No more storing it on the dining room table! Hoorah.

At 8.6m2 (or 92.5 sq ft) our new kitchen will actually be much bigger than any kitchen Kay and I have shared during our relationship and while it is no American kitchen, I’m also excited about the size upgrade we’ll be getting in July.

As you can see, the kitchen is actually its own room. Built into this little rectangle, we didn’t think it made sense to leave the door off and have an “open kitchen” because the kitchen is pretty closed off anyway. I admit that I’m looking forward to closing the door off from guests or sleeping spouses! (<- Usually that’s me!)

On wall A we have three windows looking out toward the inner complex, two of which will open and close (the middle one is stationary…) Our cost neutral plan came with some big drawers below the stove on the left, but we decided to upgrade the cabinetry below the sink to also be drawers because we think they’ll be handy and practical for pots and pans.

From right to left you have 3 sets of drawers, then the trash system below the sink and on the far right is the dishwasher. With the choice between Electrolux and V-Zug for kitchen appliances, we easily decided that we would go with V-Zug because the quality is much better.

Adora S from V-Zug

We opted for a slight upgrade on the dishwasher to one of the more eco-friendly models with a few extra modes of operation. It uses less water and electricity and it has fancy features like lights telling you when it’s done. The next higher option had a 19 minute quick clean cycle, but we didn’t think that was worth an extra 700 bucks.


GK46TIXS stovetop from V-Zug

We did stay with the standard stove option. We debated for a few months whether or not we wanted to splurge for a ridiculously expensive wok setup, but Kay read reviews that the heating element below the wok would be flat, so it wasn’t really special to have the round wok setup anyway. That and we would have needed to re-do our range hood and cabinet setup. All in all, we stuck with the standard here.

DF-5 range hood from V-Zug

One of our bigger upgrades in the kitchen was actually with the sink. This is the standard sink that came with our flat:

Largo LAX 110 50 (35) from Franke

I wasn’t particularly excited about it and Kay’s parents raved about the sink they bought for their house, so they convinced us to splurge for this amazing sink:

Beach BBX 160 from Franke

Maybe it doesn’t look so amazing here… but it comes in a whole set with colanders and bowls that sit in the rounded part and a cutting board that wraps around the sink for easy veggie chopping/rinsing and a wire wrack to fit into the sink for washing.

Kay’s mother really raves about how well the sink empties and how easy it is to clean, so we splurged a bit here.

Another must-have in the kitchen was a faucet with a spray hose. We had one at our old flat and it is one of the things I miss most in ZĂŒrich. Seriously. So we actually “saved” some money by getting this extendable hose faucet on the right rather than a fancier stationary faucet. (Because I plan on cooking a lot in the new flat, yo!)

 Mambo from Franke

Kay’s parents also implored how important and how handy it was to have a dish soap dispenser built into the counter top. Personally, for 137CHF I thought this was something I could live without, but we are planning on selling the place sooner rather than later, so we went for this handy, but unnecessary feature. We’ll see how much I use it!

Nova soap dispenser from Franke

S+R 5101 from Peka-System

Every Swiss kitchen ever has the trash can under the sink. Our standar variation comes with a 35L trash can, 4.5L bio container and four bins for extras like recycling, trash bags, etc. It also includes a tray over the trash system to store other items. I am not the biggest fan of the “open” trash can system without a dedicated lid because in our current flat I feel like it stinks up the whole area underneath the sink, but since this trash system (and hopefully our complex) has a bio setup, I’m hoping we can put biodegradable things in the green container and empty it more often while leaving the 35L trash with non-stinky things.

If you remember, I mentioned that we altered which side of the wall our kitchen door opens on and this was to avoid having the open door cover up the window on wall B. Kay really has his heart set on putting a breakfast table here, but I’m just not sure there’s going to be enough room with the walkway and access to the stove. “We’ll see…” I told him. 🙂

On wall C we have the ovens and a much larger fridge and freezer than what we have right now. Currently we are living with what would be considered a “dorm size” fridge/freezer in the US. I don’t know how I live with so few ice cubes… Seriously, the other day I didn’t have any ice in the house and it made me so anxious.

We upgraded the fridge slightly as well. There were three main V-Zug models to choose from, with the most expensive option having a decreased freezer area and a larger fridge area with a “Fresh Cool Zone” of 0ÂșC section for vegetables and meat. We (I) decided not to sacrifice actual freezer space for more fridge area, but we did upgrade to a slightly more eco-friendly fridge with a nice soft-touch close that will keep me from yelling at Kay to make sure he’s closed the fridge tightly!

Prestige Eco from V-Zug

The place came with a planned steamer and oven, but we definitely had plans from the beginning to upgrade one of them to include a microwave feature.

Miwell-Combi SL from V-Zug

I’m happy we’ll have the integrated microwave so that I don’t have to dedicate any countertop space for it. Maybe that means the bread maker will win a spot outside the pantry!

Combair-Steam S from V-Zug

After months of having things settled, I also decided that in the end, I did want the fancy built-in temperature control for meat in the steamer oven. Now when we cook things like turkey, we’ll be able to stick a meat thermometer into the oven and it will adjust the temperature of the oven until the meat is cooked to the desired temperature. The steamer oven also comes with a warming drawer so you can put your plates in there before serving food. 🙂

Wall D is where we decided we must add an electrical outlet in each corner so we can plug in coffee makers, toasters, blenders, and more.

As you can probably tell from the photos so far, the kitchen place mocked up how our kitchen will look in our chosen materials. We opted for the very white, very Swiss wooden cabinets, white back splash and walls, dark black “Nero” granite, and dark, almost black tile on the floor. We also raised all the countertop heights by a few cm so they fit better for taller people. I find most of the standard countertop heights in Switzerland to be really short and uncomfortable to work at, as if they were made for petite people, which is strange considering how tall many Swiss are.

We wanted everything to be very classic, timeless and “Swiss” because we don’t want some neon green cabinets stopping people from buying our flat in a few years. I can’t tell you how many people had blue bathtubs and toilets in their houses and it was such a turnoff.

I was so excited to see the 3d model of what our space will look like. It’s nothing too crazy, but I think I’ll really like this kitchen. The only thing that disturbs me is that the cabinets don’t go to the ceiling, so I know I’ll be up there dusting from time to time. But adding extra cabinets to fill up the space would have cost an arm and a leg, so we’ll wait and do that for a forever home.

Kay and I debated a bit about the hue of the LED spots, but finally he gave in and let me have my warm red tones instead of the blue tones, under the condition that he can put blue toned LEDs in the living room. I just didn’t think blue hues make a kitchen and the food look inviting!

With any luck, I might be able to work a small 60cm X 60 cm bar table in the kitchen for Kay to have breakfast at on the days he gets up by himself…

Want to catch up?

Rock Climbing in Switzerland

On Saturday we got a call that we were bumped from the wait list and we could join an introductory rock climbing course offered by Bergsport Bordogna at a natural (outdoor) climbing wall near Solothurn, Switzerland.

Kay has been asking about a climbing course for ages, so I agreed to go and see if climbing was something for me or not. We got up at 6am on Sunday and headed on a train towards Solothurn. At 8am we arrived at Bergsport Bordogna where we met our climbing group to get fitted for harnesses and shoes.

This is when I realized the entire course would be in SchwiizerdĂŒtsch. Ahh.

This is the “easy” flatter wall where we learned how to climb in our rubbery shoes, how to tie figure eight knots and clove hitches, and how to belay partners with a top rope setup. Our instructor looked kind of like an old grizzled Daniel Craig with hairier arms and blonder hair, but obviously someone you would trust with your life.

I was feeling pretty good with our progress on the easy wall. Around 12pm we had lunch and then Herr Craig informed us we’d be doing a “real” climb on the much taller, much steeper, much scarier wall around the corner. I admit, I was a little nervous when we passed the bend and I looked up and saw people climbing very far up from us… Gulp.

I chose to start the climb so that in theory I would do less climbing all at once, but if you think about it… both Kay and I would have to climb the whole wall. (Well, duh!) I climbed up and secured myself into a standing point and then belayed Kay up. Kay climbed past me to the next station. I apologize if this sounds weird in English, but since it was all in Swiss German I wasn’t really told what the English terms are for climbing. When we make it to a station we were told to yell “Stand!” (shtand!) and then yell things like “Seile ab!” or “Bin versichert!”

I had no trouble getting up to Kay, but when we did our next routine upwards, it was again my turn to climb and that’s where I started getting nervous. The rock smoothed out quite a bit and there wasn’t much to hold on to with your hands or grip with your feet. In essence, I felt like I was climbing on a flat wall straight up, even if we had a pretty low grade angle. (Maybe a 3 on a scale of 10… I obviously don’t know much about rock climbing and I didn’t have the info for the area we were climbing in…)

Anyway, I kept going and I was getting more and more nervous, with my anxiety feeding on itself. I slipped a little on my way up to Kay and fell off the wall for a moment, grabbing on to the rope that Kay was belaying. I gained my footing again and tried to shake off the jitters, but I looked up and Kay was facing another climber and chatting at the belay station. Urp. (He did realize I slipped and held the rope tighter… so he was paying attention!)

I made it to Kay with a bit of ledge to stand on… but I had to keep going on upward. I didn’t even realize I climbed past the next belay point until Herr Craig yelled at me. I was too busy concentrating on getting to the top! But that made it even worse, I had to climb down the smooth, terrifying rock.

Herr Craig climbed up to me (with no safety rope or anything… he was like a monkey or an ibex) and gave me some tips which helped. Kay reached me and climbed on, we did our ladder routine once more and  before I knew it I had reached the top. Kay had no idea how freaked out I got during the climb, and part of me felt like “Great, I climbed all the way up here… now how the hell am I going to get down?” If it were climbing… I think I’d be stuck up there still.

Thankfully the instructors arranged some abseiling so we could all descend relatively quickly in a few trips to different points down the rock.

My fingers were pretty sore and kind of swollen the next day, but I felt tired in a nice way on Sunday evening. Kay and I both slept really well that night. If Kay is around, we may even try course number 2, if I can stand it. I’m still not sure climbing is for me, but I’m willing to give it a try.

Nothing says you trust your spouse like letting them belay so you don’t fall to your death descending. Trust in Kay, trust in Kay.

Have you ever gone rock climbing or would you ever consider trying it out?