Latest: 2007: a working (unfinished) kitchen
The kitchen is in desperate need of renovation. Last summer's renovations were a stop-gap measure against the termites and the sinking wall. The termite damage extends into the rafters, which will be replaced and the roof re-shingled. The dishwasher has died, the cabinets are losing their bearings and squealing with each pull of a drawer, and the floor is ruined. With the kitchen out of commision for a new roof, we're going to gut and re-do the kitchen: some new appliances, more cabinets, new floor, more outlets. The kitchen will retain it's current size, 16 by 9, because the only wall that could be easily replaced is the wall that was rebuilt last year.
The kitchen project seemed on indefinite hold with all the summer activity we had, but now Jorj is determined to take off the last half of December and renovate the kitchen himself with Jim. This means: gut the kitchen, re-wire, run new plumbing, new flooring, install cabinets and counters, install lights. I'd been planning my dream kitchen, but with the limited schedule and budget, I'll concentrate on getting the exact cabinets I want, and cheaping out on counter, lights and flooring with an eye to replacing them in five to ten years. The outside venting stove hood is probably a pipe dream: we have neither the time nor money, and once the cabinets are in, may not want to cut a hole into the ceiling!
Jorj and I have agreed on a cabinet style. It's called "Shaker inspired" by the manufacturers: square frame with panel, no beveling, no arches. I'd like some glass doors for dishes and glassware, and he likes the mullioned doors too. The look can be very modern, or very Deco. You know I want the Deco, to fit with the age of the house better. We agree on a mid to light wood finish for the cabinets, and no-nail, no-glue wood flooring (I think I could lay that). We aren't agreeing on the counters: I want cheap and to replace them in five or ten years. He hates waste. He'll probably agree to replacing the overhead light, because it could be re-sold. Tough to re-sell custom counters.
A new header has gone up and is supporting the roof; the temporary support is gone and the stove is back in place. We -- mostly Jorj -- are cooking up a storm to freeze for when we no longer have a stove. I keep forgetting we won't have any burners, and always want to make pasta sauce. We've made pork roasts, chili, lasane so far, and soups are on tomorrow's menu.
The cabinets are ordered, and should arrive November 29. They weigh not quite half a ton. Jorj and I both worried the floors wouldn't suppor that, until I pointed out that people weigh an average of -- what? 150 pounds? and we've had seven or eight people in the kitchen at a time -- more than 1,000 pounds. The floors will hold, and if they don't, there isn't a full basement under the kitchen, just a crawlspace, so it's not a long drop. The cabinets are made by Kraft Maid, in natural-finished cherry. The upper cabinets along the Church Road wall will have glass doors. The wall cabinets will be 42 inches tall on that wall, 36 inchs everywhere else. I have enough cabinets that I should be able to move some dishes from the dining room into the kitchen. The style is here, named Veneer Recessed Cherry. Sorry, can't get the style on a single page.
Tomorrow we pick out shingles for the roof, and take a look at flooring. Once the flooring and a sink are ordered, I'll feel like the kitchen is ready for renovation. Knobs and pull would probably be good too, and a faucet. Haven't had any luck finding any faucet that's attractive with clean lines. A two-handle faucet is more attractive, but a one handle more practical -- easier to tone down the hot water while doing the dishes and not burn oneself. The designs haven't changed since the early 70s, nothing is super modern or super retro, it's all just ugly.
One more box is packed, and the garage sale box is started. Gena and Lynn are so proud! The box is still fairly empty: mis-matched glasses, a little-used tea kettle, back newspaper issues. I'd hoped for more, but we do seem to use most of what we have.
We looked at flooring Saturday (after learning the roofing supply place had closed half an hour earlier, and compounding Jorj's frustration by telling him I wanted to change the shingle color). For the floor, we'd like to use two shades of wood, and create an arch pattern. Because the room is so cold, and I hate the white vinyl flooring that never gets clean, we want wood, and not stone, ceramic or vinyl. Picking two wood tones that won't clash with the cherry cabinets, contrast with each other, and aren't too light or too dark is difficult. The arch pattern forces us to use nailed or glued tongue and groove flooring, rather than the easier floating flooring. Jorj will need to install the flooring, but this time we'll rent a pneumatic nailer and won't have to finish the floor. Although it will be more work, the arch will give the room a lot of personality and will be relatively easy to do.
Still undecided on the counters, but the placement of electrical outlets is decided.
Cabinets are scheduled to arrived November 29, the Monday after Thanksgiving. All demolition, wiring, plumbing and flooring must be finished, so that really cancels hosting Thanksgiving for the first time since 1994, the year before we married. Dad and Sandy joined us in the apartment. We made turkey, deviled cauliflower, stuffing, potatoes, probably salad, and pumpkin cheesecake, all in a kitchen that was literally in a closet and had no counters. Next year, nearly 20 linear feet of counters, four work areas and a dishwasher.
Damage from termites to
the original floor boards and the wall studding. You can see where the termites
travelled up one row of floorboards to the wall studding. The damage probably
happened after the linoleum was installed.
trash pile of floorboards, plaster, tile, lathe, and flooring, as seen from the
upstairs bedrooms. Yep, it was time for the annual dumpster rental (previously
seen in such home projects as "Giant Bush Removal 2002" and "Exterior Wall: the
favorite implement of destruction: the sledgehammer. It's resting on the dirt floor
of the crawlspace below the kitchen. Clearly visible is the old heating duct, soon
to be removed. It turns out that return vent is full of debris and is disconnected.
So much for covering the return vent to prevent dust distribution!
gutted and waiting for electricity, plumbing, ductwork, flooring, and walls. Yes, the
bare stone is lovely. When I asked Jorj if we could leave one wall uncovered, he only
said, "I love you." What he didn't say is: it will throw the schedule off, it will
be a bugger to clean, we want to insulate! The pieces of paper stapled to the studs
are a floor plan, schedule and daily or weekly punch list. Jorj is a fantastic
Jorj's schedule was to get the subfloor and floor laid, walls studded and drywalled over Thanksgiving. Well, we have a floor. And I ordered the counters, sink, faucet and dishwasher this week. Ignore the prices on the web site; no one seems to sell for retail.
Plumbing! A third location for the sink, in front of the door leading to Church Road. The door will be replaced with a window, if it's been ordered. The new sink will be a 26" Elkay sink-and-a-half from Weinstein Supply (where neighboor "Chainsaw" Eddie works). The faucet is pretty standard, one handle with side sprayer, continuing the curve theme, but at least not a design from 1975. You can't find a really sexy, modern faucet under $500 dollars.
The sink is the first mistake in my design. The
short wall is 8'10", not 9' as first thought. This is actually good because each end has a 2"
spacer, giving enough room for cabinets and the dishwasher to open and clear window and door
frames. However, without the six inches I thought I had, I dropped back to a 30" sink cabinet.
I should have narrowed the one pull cabinet from 12 to 6", and kept the 36" sink
cabinet. It's nearly impossible to find a sink and a half for a 30" cabinet. Only Elkay and
Moen make them.
Jorj laid the sub-floor.
He and Jim decided to add another layor of flooring to bring the same level the vinyl had been.
Can't say I agree with it; it seemed like more work for little benefit.
Now with moisture barrier!
The kitchen is above a dirt crawl space. This should keep the flooring from picking up moisture from the basement. This is how Jorj spent Thanksgiving while I was at my sister's with his mother and
The grand scheme for the floor is revealed. Jorj wanted a wavy pattern, but even with pre-finished floors, patterns aren't available -- there's a market waiting to be exploited. I suggested a large curve. Jorj loved the idea (which is good, because he did all the cutting of the curve). The idea was for something dramatic and striking, without a lot of expense or labor (hah!). This is his first try at cutting the curve, wherein he made free-hand cuts with the jig saw, and smoothed them out with the rotary sander.
It did not look bad, but he and Jim decided they could make it better with a router
and templates. This is where it got painful. Admittedly, the final results were better, but a
lot of pain was involved. The curve was so large, two templates were needed for the light maple
flooring. Another two inverse templates were needed for the red Brazillian cherry. The cherry from
the second curve didn't quite match the maple, and Jorj tried to re-template and cut the cherry.
No dice, one template ruined, plus some maple boards. Then he and Jim re-created the cherry template from the maple template. At some point they cut into three or four nailed, perfectly good cherry boards, necessiting their replacement. Jorj was still calm, but with his "going to bull through
this until it's fixed" attitude he gets.
At the start, when the
boards matched up. Most frustrating for me was that we would be making good progress ... then
more curves needed to be cut. Most frustrating for Jorj must have been that the two-day job he envisioned took the whole weekend, because mistakes kept happening, and good work needed to
be ripped out and re-done.
I got to help! After
making chruschiki with Sandy, I was laying maple flooring while Jorj laid the curved sections
and cherry. He's such a perfectionist, it was better that he lined up the pieces of the
curve, and he did a fantastic job. Flooring is much easier with a pneumatic stapler,
rather than mechanical nailer we used in the living room. The lovely outfit is a pair of
pre-pregancy jeans (featuring some blue paint from the Little One's room), gardening knee
pads, and a borrowed sweatshirt. Who says seven-month pregnant women can't lay floor?
Jorj works the curve.
This was the middle of the pain known as making the curve. He's about to realize that the
maple boards don't match the cherry boards.
Jorj tries routing
matching maple boards. At this point, a couple of boards were damaged, along with a template.
Eventually, they scratched
a line onto maple boards from the template. Jim took the boards home when he left at 8 that
night (Thanks Deb!), rough cut them, returned Sunday morning and finished them off with the
new oscillating sander we bought.
Look at that joint! It's
perfect! And don't tell me any differently. Jorj became very upset when the
flooring was scratched before we finished laying it. He immediately started
covering exposed floors and demanding everyone remove their shoes. No pictures
of the completed flooring until after the work is complete.
I love laying pre-finished
flooring, and the pneumatic stapler was a joy to work with. Behind me you
see the new toy: the oscillating sander.
The cabinets arrived today on time -- early in fact, the truck was here before I pulled out of the driveway. I'd had a bad feeling because I didn't confirm upgrading the cabinet quality, but I remember doing that when we got the estimate. Well, I should have confirmed every bit of the order. Now I have thousands of dollars of cabinets of doubtful quality, when, for a couple thousand more, I could have had cabinets that would last a lifetime. I'm very, very annoyed mostly with myself.
Additionally, the best that can be said for the delivery guys is that they got the boxes into the house. The boxes are in fairly bad shape. Boxes were laid face down that clearly said, don't lay down on this side. There is a rust pattern on one box from the floor of the truck. Jorj said they were surly to boot.
Drywall is nailed to the lower half of some walls in the kitchen. Jorj is finishing the electric, and the remaining drywall should be up by Wednesday. Jorj tells me we need lights NOW, this week, so that he knows the type of box (round or square) to install. And this was to be a week without frantic shopping! Suggestions anyone? I'm looking for modern pendant lights for over a table. Nothing "contemporary," and the bad design that implies. Might have to go downtown Wednesday to check out some shops.
Not much to report in the last week, except the delivery of the sink, faucet and dishwasher, and selection of the lights, leaving the living room and entrance looking like this: In the living room, the cabinet doors are piled on the range hood on the kitchen table. The extra flooring is under the table. You can just see the bike rack. In the entrance, the sink and faucet are on more cabinets, and we just put the coats on top of the cabinets; there is no way to reach the closet.
Jorj has been wiring, wiring, wiring, and some additional drywall has gone up. One kitchen light is installed:
The lights will be in a triangle, with three different heights. They are from Home Depot, although I'd hoped for something snazzier, but we could never find time to go light shopping. Having half an hour to kill, I stopped at Home Depot -- Jorj said he'd seen a light he liked, but no number was on the light and the sales droid thought they were discontinued and wouldn't get a ladder to check the SKU. Picking a different Home Depot (we have a favorite Home Depot, how sad is that?), I wrote down SKUs for a bunch of lights I liked, then lost the bloody piece of paper. Purchase deadline approaching, I asked Jorj what the light looked like, and darned if we hadn't picked the same light. Fine, easy solution, buy three, in and out in under an hour.
The big accomplishment of last week was replacing the Church Road door (the one with the round window) with a window. Some reframing was necessary, because a window small enough to clear the backsplash and fit in the door frame would be a special order, five weekls lead time. Jim and Jorj just installed the window Jorj had bought, and learned that the door frame was connected only by two very large nails. In the lower left of the picture, you can see the dishwasher, which arrived Thursday. Jorj has put up the occasional panel of drywall, but drywalling is really a two-person job. Jack, give us back our contractor!
Jorj has ordered the over-cabinet lights, which are special flourescents. He's not sure we'll have enough light because I wanted extra-tall cabinets along the Church Road wall, and they have only 4 inches clearance to the ceiling, not including the crown molding.
* From the movie Galaxy Quest
It looks like a kitchen! You can look at this photo and imagine that someone might actually cook there some day! Look! Walls! Cabinets! Templates! The coffee pot is plugged into a wall outlet! The stove is not connected. The stove is in the same place it was before; only a cabinet above the stove has been removed for the stove hood.
Another curve! A slight curve on the front of the counter. It looks nifty without adding a lot of expense; it mimics the curve theme of the kitchen; and it give more overhang so that I can clamp my pasta machine more stably. This is where the sink had been. The fridge will return to the space on the other side of the window.
The window is new and had replaced the door that led to Church Road. The wall previously had a hutch (on the right) and microwave cabinet (in front of the door). The dishwasher will fill in the empty space on the right. There is a little curve in the counter on the right, over the angled cabinet. The angled cabinet was needed because there is only 23 inches of space between the doorway to the wall -- too shallow for a normal cabinet. More sink troubles: the Elkay web site said the sink was 26 1/2 inches wide, and would fit a 30 inch base cabinet. They lied. Double checked the order with Weinstein Supply, and they sold me the sink I asked for. The sink JUST fits into the cabinet, and the counter template guy had no issues. He and James worked it out between them. I will have a double sink; I am happy.
What I'm not happy about is not hearing from Kraft Maid for them to schedule a time to look at the cabinet damage. Last time I called the message had gone to the wrong rep. Gotta call again today. The customer service operators are wonderful, quite lovely. That is, unfortunately, the best part of the experience with the cabinets.
The template guy from Suburban Marble and Granite showed up on time and did an amazing job. Watching a professional work is always a joy. Borders are drawn in different colors, and he took exact measurements, especially for sink placement. The template is incredibly precise. On each edge he wrote the type of edge finish or backspash. Each template has the type and thickness of stone.
Countertops were installed yesterday by Suburban Marble and Granite. The counters have been the best part of the whole remodel. There were no problems from start to finish. (The flooring was also a good experience, but we did the install, which you may recall as being a prime pain in the patootie.) The counter installers arrived on time Thursday, had the counters installed in two hours, and it looks beautiful. It still needs to be dusted and have some mineral oil applied, and the faucet and drains connected, but it's one more big step to kitchen!
The cabinets replacement doors and drawers (for the damage and the mis-ordered items) are still en route -- I hope they are en route, and no one is expecting a call back from me. Some doors and drawers are installed, but there are still no knobs and pulls. I ordered some sample hardware to guage quality and size. We're looking at 9365, 9363, 9362, 19202, and 19259 models.
More and more stuff is moving from the living room and entrance way into the kitchen. I guess it's time to clean!
For Gena, the counter! The counters are soapstone -- because the cost was as much as Corian, and it's what I really wanted. We need to oil them weekly for the first few months, then monthly, then, whenever. Soapstone should be heatproof and acidproof, unlike Granite. Still, I'm keeping my old tempered glass counter saver next to the stove. As you can see, the sink is deep enough that elves can shower in it. It's ten inches deep, plus the inch of counter.
The sink area has a vein of green quartz running in it. The baking/food prep area by the fridge (the old sink area) has a map of South America and the Mexican empire. On either side of the stove is plain black.
As I mentioned up front, Jorj got a new lens for his camera, I get flatware as a parity purchase. This is actually very important, because there is no possibility of compromise with Jorj on the flatware issue. I like modern and European. He likes American. I want interestingly and unusually shaped pieces. He wants the shape we've always had. I may need to retain our current flatware to keep him happy.
Here's what's left to be done on the kitchen, which our contractor seems to have lost interest in. He shows up, putters, and goes away. Hasn't reached a goal in weeks. Tasks listed somewhat in order of importance and dependency, with the two big items on which everything else depends in bold.
The samples of cabinet hardware have arrived. One handle never got ordered, but it's simply the smallest of three similar handles. One handle has been eliminated already (too large), now we're down to compromise.
The good news is, the fridge is back in the kitchen, I can clean the dining room, and the kitchen is even more usable. (Final wall cabinet also up and stove hood connected.)
The bad news is that Jorj and Jim mildly scratched the floor (three places -- he showed me), one cabinet door (formerly undamaged) and the front of the counter (this one I can't see). Jorj is very upset, even more so because he was moving the fridge, and did the "damage" himself. He used the f-word six times in e-mail and said he felt that all his work was for nothing.
The kitchen has been a very frustrating project for Jorj. First, the chronological time has far outstripped what was actually necessary. Secondly, Jorj became a manager because he hates watching projects go bad. If someone needs to lead, Jorj will jump in to lead. The kitchen project has no end in sight, and we're rapidly approaching the drop-dead date of February 7. Unfortunately, there is little I can do to help the project along, other than cleaning and making phone calls, neither of which is a favored task of mine.
However, the fridge is out of the dining room, I can clean it, and then I can put the furniture back.
This was all made possible by sub-flooring being installed Tuesday to cover the 2 x 2 hole between the kitchen and dining room. The cat had just realized she could walk on the floor joists to get from one room to the next. She would only walk on one joist, closest to the doorway, with the most foundation stone around it. After the sub-flooring was installed, she continues to walk only on that side of the doorway, as if the plywood is an illusion.
Jorj has finished all the lighting! It's great! The main lighting is flurecents over the cabinets. Jorj worried they wouldn't be bright enough. Not a problem. Under the cabinets are 10 watt hallogen lights for tasks; each wall has its own set on its own switch. in front of the window are three halogen pendants (20, 20 and 50 watts) that will focus on the table. These are my favorites, giving a very subdued lighting when the only lights on. With all the cabinet lights on, the kitchen is very, very bright!
Jorj always planned to work from home after Jakob arrived; I was the one who said the work would be mainly kitchen, not computer.
When I went into labor, Jorj called Jim to demand that the kitchen be painted before Jakob came home, and that the dishwasher be hooked up. Guess what. Go on, guess. The drywall still isn't finished. When we returned home, Jorj hit the roof, called, drove out the next day, left messages, told him he was fired unless the dishwasher were installed by midnight. Gee, Sunday we get a call, he shows up to install the dishwasher, Jorj relents, tells him he has to do the drywall next so that another contrator can finish the painting. Guess who doesn't show up the next day. To me, that means he quit.
Tuesday, Jorj started packing up his stuff, and Wednesday drove it out to him tomorrow. Tuesday night we cleaned the kitchen together -- what a joy -- and have been moving some things into the ktichen (like the microwave). Jorj laid the final floor boards over the piece of subflooring between the dining room and kitchen. Friend Sean looked at the drywal repairs that need to be made and said he could make the repairs, finish the mudding, prime and paint next week. Jorj also got rid of the dumpster simply by calling BFI. Gee, they picked it up the next day. Jorj also installed the remaining doors, although another door was delivered damages. Jorj thinks it was a delivery injury.
So, we're hiring individual contractors to finish each piece. Jorj and I can install the baseboard moldings. Jorj thinks he can fix the tiny leak from the dishwasher, but we could always get a plumber or appliance repair person. I think we can install the cabinet hardware ourselves with a drill and some good templates. And we have all those damaged drawerfronts and doors to practice on!
I've spent mornings this week unpacking the last of the boxes into the kitchen, except for the books. Everything else is out of the boxes and into the cabinets, except for the nut grinder, large salad bowl, cake cover and one hoebel. There's no leftover space, surprisingly; I really thought there would be an empty shelf or two, that could, you know, hold books. Five linear feet of shelves will be installed next to the back door wall, but won't hold all the books. For goodness sake, I bought a new cookbook and food science reference during the renovation!
It's usable, but not finished. The cabinets have doors but no handles; yes, this means the final non-damaged door was delivered. The drawer fronts haven't been replaced. Drywall and painting unfinished. Dishwasher running but not completely installed. As you can see, the dining room has been cleared and cleaned (just in time for Tobi's visit).
We're still eating food frozen for the renovation. At least one pork loin and a pint of chili are left.
A telling moment in Jorj's and my marriage is when I visited his grandfather's house, or was it when he visited my father's house? Anyhow, both men lived for decades with unfinished but usable home renovation projects. Grandfather had the bathroom with unprimed walls. Dad had the bathroom with insulated walls without wallboard. Eventually, it was the bathroom without a toilet too. Dad also had the kitchen with the broken dishwasher Dad got very cheaply, that he would fix, one day. I just blocked that entire section of cabinet from my brain. I was always shocked to remember there was something under the cabinet.
We are happy to say the walls have been primed and painted, trim installed (except the quarter round), the dishwasher works. I have a temporary table, and we are using chairs from the dining room, but it's really, almost, truly finished.
The stove is slowly dying, and will need to be replaced soon. Recent flooding may have damaged the basement fridge. More work!
Don't miss other exciting homeowner adventures!
New Wall for the Kitchen 2003 | The Tour du Paint 2003 | Bitty Baby Blue | Stairs To Nowhere: An On-going Saga