The House

Who needs to cook?

The inside on the outside and the outside on the inside!What started as replacing the frame around the back kitchen door by the fridge (as opposed to the back kitchen door by the table, the back basement door, the front entrance door and the front, boarded over, dining room door) is now jack up the wall four inches, replace the studding, treat for live termites, repair the roof, rip out the closet where the fridge sits, and maybe get a new outlet.

Pictures of the finished product!

Veggies & champagne

The fridge is on the other side of the sink and all the food is in the downstairs fridge, which usually stores wine, beer, chocolate and a 20-pound bike battery. The door and one veggie crisper are full of wine. What few fresh veggies we have are in the champagne drawer.

Look ma! No

The couldn't move the stupid thing up 16 inches!One of the goals of updating the kitchen (this isn't a renovation, they tried to get me to pick a new floor and I refused) is to get another outlet or two in there. We knew of four outlets: one behind the stove for the stove (and no extra plug on the stove), one behind the fridge, one behind the sink/dishwasher, and one over the sink/dishwasher with one outlet and a switch for the outside. Our safety-minded homeowners have plugged a power strip into the single outlet, and, as long as the electric kettle isn't turned on with anything else, we figure we won't burn down the house. To rebuild the outer wall, Jim and Jeff ripped out the cabinets (August 1972) and found ... an outlet a foot off the ground behind the cabinets. The previous owners couldn't move the stupid thing up. The previous owners redid the entire kitchen and blocked all but one outlet. Of course they only had a 60-amp service and an electric stove and water heater. The picture at right shows the outlet; the line near the top copyright notice is the caulk from the top of the cabinet.

Jeff and Jim rip out the back wall.Another discovery of moving the cabinets -- okay, there was a lot of grease -- was an August 1972 issue of Time magazine (cover: Henry Kissinger) caulked between the wall and cabinets. Apparently, the cabinets didn't fit against the wall closely enough, and the gap was too large to support the caulk (there are caulk slides on the wall), so they just shoved a few pages of a magazine in!

We also found lovely green tile between the yellow tile and the floor. It matches the bullnose, green tile that tops the kitchen tile. The green tile near the floor is covered by some hideoous white plastic builder's special molding installed with the floor. This woman was a great cook, but her taste was in her mouth. The official name of the cabinet style was another discovery: chalet yellow.

August 15 2003: It's not a disaster, it's an opportunity

Termite damage inside 
the wall behind the refridgerator.We knew we had to replace the roof next year.

We thought we'd found all the old termite damage.

We thought we'd killed all the termites.

In good news, there were more termites, they'd gotten into the roof beams, they're dead now and next year I get a whole new kitchen!

See, trying to renovate more than the wall was a bad idea! The initial plan is to replace all cabinets, flooring, sink and the dishwasher. Additional cabinets will be installed along one wall that is cabinetless. The stove will stay: it works well; I'd want to replace it with gas; we can't afford having gas run, buying a stove, a roof, a dishwasher and a kitchen. The fridge will stay: it's a year old, and I love it. Sometimes I hug my fridge. Nothing says we can't bring in more appliances, like a wine fridge or a built in microwave. Built-ins are the best. One reason I love my kitchen now is the building in silver drawer, bread drawer and cutting board.

The first hurdle will be the style of the kitchen. Jorj wants sleek and modern. As appealing as sleek and modern is (you must come see the new living room), the house isn't. Something built-in, something that is part of the bones of the house (like a kitchen), not the skin (like paint), something permanent should match the feel of the house. Ideally, I'd like a Deco kitchen, both modern and close to the time the house was built (1901) and the time the kitchen was added (1940s?). However, I did pick out the colors for the dining room and entrance without consulting him, I do like modern, and modern will give me flat-front cabinets without any nooks to hold grease and dirt. So, I can live with it. Plus, I'll get cabinet interiors exactly the way I want them.

Wall skeletons!To get the kitchen I want (nearly -- no gas stove), I have to stop buying presents, like my fabu 12" PowerBook G4. I am in lurv! It's absolutely wonderful! It has the Mac interface, iTunes is almost everything I want in a music jukebox application, I can run X applications like Gimp, I have OS9 for my old Mac apps (Civ II!), and it looks great. It's not as if I don't have enough stuff already -- my term is "stuff saturation" -- but it's so hard to resist dishes and silverware and books and 99 cent songs from iTunes.

August 17 through 24: Progress at last

Updates have been few and far between because I didn't want to scare Tobi and his family with pictures of slow progress. And beleive me, progess was much slower than I would have liked. Yes, I did want my kitchen rebuilt in a day; what's wrong with that?. After jacking up the roof and the floor, installing a sill plate to hold up the floor, Jim studded out a new wall. In the picture, you see the DuPont Tyvek that is all that stood between us and the great outdoors until the sheathing went up. We lived a week with Tyvek walls. (Side note: I worked on Tyvek's "give us your info and we'll give you free stuff" web site.)

Go Jorj go!Jorj, bless his biking-fit heart, traded in his gadget belt for a tool belt and helped Jim with the sheathing, insulation, and drywall. They made a good team, getting a lot of work done in one, very long day. And by the end of it, I had a real, honest-to-goodness wall to keep out the critters! And I could stop worrying about home invaders slicing their way into the house.

First, you'll notice that the window and the door have switched positions; this will give Mom more room to drive into the kitchen. A permanent wheelchair ramp is in the planning too. Left of the window you'll see two outlets: the near left outlet is a standard GFCI outlet, effectively tripling the number of outlets in the kitchen. The far left outlet is two Cat 5e, two phone, one CATV. Jorj has thoughts of moving the tv into the corner.

Rebuilding the outer wall enabled us to remove the closet that had surrounded the refrigerator, and gained nearly a foot of space next to it. This extra space now has shelves (more storage!). Jorj also replaced the one-plug outlet with switch; it now has a normal two-plug outlet. A third outlet is by the door. Wow. Don't know what I'll do with all this electricity.

And this is the one wall in the house with real insulation. Once the insulation was in, the kitchen stayed nice and cool even during the construction.

Finished view of the kitchen; it's even clean! Outside, still waiting for shingles.

Don't miss other exciting homeowner adventures!

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