Thursday, October 30, 2014

Kitchen rehab

For as long as I’ve known her, Martha has been pining for a new kitchen.  Our current kitchen doesn’t even have real cabinets - they are shelves, mounted a frame, with doors.  Barnwood doors which are very country looking, but the rough wood holds every bit of grease and dust.  And since it is all raw wood inside, all the dishes continue to have sawdust on them.   The linoleum floor is yellowed and in the winter we get a blast of cold air when opening a corner cabinet.  

And so, with only one last tuition payment to make (yay!)  we decided to finally remodel the kitchen.  I spent a good deal of the summer being dragged to kitchen and home improvement stores to pick out the color and style of cabinets.   Then a couple of months in the design stage.  Do we want shelves or a pull out drawer?  Here or there?   Arches or straight lines?  Mounted or counter top microwave? Knobs or handles?  What kind of backsplash?  Grade of granite?  What kind of moulding ? Honestly, the choices are endless.  The design process took months but we finally ordered everything.

And now we have started the demolition.  We are taking out the entire kitchen, down to the studs, so we can update the electrical and insulation.   Of course Martha, who is doing very little of the demo because of her respiratory problems, starts every day with “well, this part will be easy.”  

Not so easy.

Most people can just unscrew their cabinets and take them whole off the wall.  Ours, built on a frame work, required a piece by piece removal.  And every piece was secured with L-brackets which required the removal of 4 rusty old screws each.  Something that should of taken a couple of hours took me almost a week.

On one wall I went through a layer of sheetrock, only to find another layer of a brick facade, and behind that, yet more sheetrock.  It tooks days to get through it all and disposal was a bitch  Then on all corners there is a metal mesh which I can’t get out without destroying the ceiling so I will have to do some very creative sheetrocking around that.  

I did find the source of the cold air coming through the cabinets - once the old and decrepit insulation was out I found holes in the exterior walls where the wood knots had fallen out.  That will be an easy, and much needed repair.

Once we got the sink out we discovered that a lifetime of sink leaks had rotted out the floor below, right down to the sub-base.  Martha’s answer is to just go over it with a sheet of luan.  Her solution to most problems - cover it.   (This explains why there is four layers of linoleum to remove.)  I, being much more of a perfectionist when it comes to building, spent last night cutting out all the damaged wood and will replace it.  

Presently we are living without any counter space, no sink and no dishwasher and food and dishes stacked in the dining room on shelving I knocked together from the framework.

It is not so difficult, especially for me who is comfortable out in the woods for days without any amenities. But we are a one bathroom household so not only are we falling over each other in the mornings showering and teeth brushing, we now also have to get water and wash dishes in the bathroom sink. We are starting to eat way more take-out than is healthy.

The worst of it is all the plaster dust.   It is everywhere, in every nook and cranny.  Martha is constantly dusting and vacuuming and mopping trying to stay ahead of it, but it is insidious.   I can taste it when I lick my lips and even my bed feels gritty.  

Hopefully one more day will take care of the demolition and then we can start with putting it all back together.  The cabinets are being delivered on Monday, although we will not be ready for installation for at least a week after that.   But this project cannot be over too soon for me.   

Nerves  (and muscles) are getting a little frayed.


  1. Wow!!!I- I am impressed - I would be totally overwhelmed!!! That is great that you can do all of that yourselves! Hang in there - can't wait to see the after pictures.

    1. I hope I will live long enough to see the after pictures myself : )

  2. Wow. Ugh. Having lived in endless remodels my entire life (not kidding) I can truly sympathize with your situation. I know that it is NOT FUN! Washing dishes in the bathroom is horrible! [A quick suggestion: set up a couple of dishpans on the table and plug in the electric kettle. Wash the dishes as if you were at a campground. - For me this is easier to take than the bathroom, for some reason.]
    The best thing to do is to keep your spirits up by imagining how great it will be when it is done and vowing to never remodel it again. And, an emphatic YES, to take-out.
    You have my sympathy!

    1. Table? What table? Every flat surface in our house has been taken over by crap that was in the kitchen. I am down to having the dog lick the bowl clean. Good enough.

      And the kitchen may look great when it's done, but I think my sketchy cooking will be the same. So really, what is the point of all this?

  3. holy moly, i don't know if i'm more impressed or sympathetic! you're doing the work mostly yourself?!

    we had our kitchen modestly remodeled ($ 7000 and it turned out super)--you won't regret it. but wow that you aren't paying for an easier route. i'm impressed. and sympathetic :^)

    ps yes for lunch :^)

    pss address

    psss :^)

    1. Normally I enjoy a good project. I like the physical activity and creative building. But this is just taken too long and is disgustingly dusty demolition.

      pss - email me at 8thdayplanner dot gmail dot com. I would love to work something out.

  4. That's quite a demo project. I'm doing a gradual kitchen remodel, but not down to the studs.