Catch up on our kitchen renovation:
There comes a time in every remodeler's life when one must simply knuckle down, put their nose to the grindstone, put the pedal to the metal, or as we like to say at Vanderhouse, "Take care of business." With the Thanksgiving deadline swiftly approaching, we earmarked a weekend in November to demo and then install the new north side of the kitchen. This was the big one, including the new cabinets, countertops, sink, and dishwasher. All of our previous hard work was in preparation for this weekend.
Denny and I began the demo on Thursday night. Our plan was to remove the old cabinets and soffit and strip the wall down to the studs in preparation for adding drywall behind the new cabinets. We set up the GoPro to capture a series of photos of the demo, and then we got to it with a mallet and our mitts.
The next night, Denny's dad Dennis came over to assess the situation and begin work on the electrical components. We could not have done any of the electrical work without his help! I mean, seriously, look at his drawing! He had to figure out how to take two existing outlets and turn them into three outlets and a new light switch for the light above the sink, all without burning the house down!
Speaking of burning the house down, we had been told during our inspection that our house had some old knob and tube wiring in the attic and walls. Knob and tube is not as well protected or stable as modern wiring and therefore, we're not allowed to install insulation next to it for fear of fire. So yes, though it seems crazy in Oklahoma's extreme climate, our house is uninsulated. Because we had the unique opportunity to peer into the wall behind the cabinets, we could see that there was only new wiring, no knob and tube which meant that we could insulate this wall, providing a much-needed barrier between our feet on the cold tile and the north wind. So that's where we began on the next day, the longest day.
We rented an insulation blower from Lowe's and paid the $40 for the amount of blown insulation we would need for this wall. The lath acted as a natural container for the insulation and then we used two pieces of rolled insulation around the window. I fully realize that all of this is unglamorous and unsatisfying work, the likes of which I discussed in my last post. But it's these kinds of things that can make a big difference to the final product. We now have a warm and toasty kitchen where we used to have frozen dishes and the fear of frozen pipes.
No one told us just how messy blown insulation can be. Wow. This was the first time any of us had used this method so we prepared as well as we could by blocking off the area with tarps. But once it was all finished, the mess was out of control and poor Dennis had turned into an unrecognizable woolly beast.
The insulation took longer than any of us would have liked and it was late in the afternoon before we had returned the blower and could proceed with the installation of the drywall.
Our goal for the evening was to get the plumbing and electricity installed so that we could use the kitchen again. Two days without a kitchen sink was plenty, and we were ready to get the kitchen back into working order. Unfortunately, to get to those steps, we quickly realized that we had to essentially install every single component of the base cabinets. The general breakdown went like this:
- Install drywall.
- Attach cabinet rail to drywall and hang cabinet boxes (previously assembled), including cutting holes for electric and plumbing.
- Attach all boxes together and cut and install wooden filler pieces on the end where the cabinets didn't quite meet up with the wall.
- Install dishwasher.
- Measure and cut countertops to size, then install.
- Install sink on top of countertops.
- Install garbage disposal under the sink.
- Hook up plumbing and electric for sink, garbage disposal, and dishwasher
- Tada, new kitchen!
And that's the easy, simple list! How it actually went down in real life was infinitely more complicated.
The first problem we ran into was the uneven floor. It turned out that the base cabinet legs needed to rest right along the edge of the tile where we had removed a support. So we had to strip down the support and reinstall it so that the legs had something to sit on. Then, Dennis had to build a platform for the dishwasher to make it level with the tile. The tile was about an inch and half taller than the floor under the cabinets thanks to the careless install of years and years of different layers of tile. Attaching the support gave us an even surface on which to place the cabinet legs.
Finally, the first cabinet was installed, and boy were we excited!
Maybe we could finish before 10:00pm after all! Denny and I swiftly continued with the cabinet installation while Dennis worked on preparing the dishwasher for installation.
The whole process of installing the base cabinets had a lot of issues and hangups. For instance, we had to prepare the trim around the door to accept the thickness of the countertop. Which meant that the trim had to be sanded and prepared for staining before installing otherwise we would never be able to get to it in place. So that had to be glued and nailed into place along with the filler pieces. The filler pieces had to be carefully measured and cut to fit exactly and of course, nothing is quite straight or level. So it took a lot of precise measuring to get them right. Each cabinet had to be leveled and then screwed into the cabinet next to it. And the drywall had to be cut to the right height so that the countertop would sit flush with the top of the base cabinets.
Finally, around 11:00pm, we had all of that accomplished and were ready to install the countertops. In hindsight, this would have been a good stopping point. But we were all driven onward by excitement and the desire to see the project through to the end.
Before the countertops could be installed, they had to be cut down to size. We had two pieces, both too long, that needed to be cut flush with the sink cabinet edge. We couldn't make this cut before that night because we didn't know how far the distance would be between the finished wall and the sink cabinet. When we finally had the measurements, it was close to midnight and we trooped out into the yard to use the saw. I'm sure our neighbors loved that we were out in the backyard making extremely loud and long cuts at midnight!
Once they were cut to size, we proceeded with the sink install which had its own complications. Two more cuts were necessary in the countertops to fit the front curtain of the sink.
Finally, finally, the sink was in place. I just had to stand back for a second and admire it. We bought the Domsjö single bowl farmhouse sink from Ikea. It was by far the cheapest option for a sink like this, and we love it. It's the perfect size to fit an entire frying pan or other large, bulky item for washing. It has a single hole for a faucet so we had bought one with a built in sprayer on Amazon and had it ready to go.
Dennis crawled under the sink, where he would remain for the next three hours. He quickly installed the faucet and connected the garbage disposal and the dishwasher to the sink. But then we hit another snag - the water lines from the wall were too short to reach. By this point, it was 2:00am and we had two options: quit and go to bed with no running water or someone had to run out to Walmart to try to buy some hose extenders. You can probably guess that Denny ended up heading out into the night to see if he could pick up what we needed.
Unfortunately, Walmart didn't have the right hoses, and the whole project came to an abrupt and final halt for the night. It was probably for the best. We had tried as hard as we possibly could, and there was nothing to do but get a good night's sleep and finish up the next day once we were able to go buy the correct parts. So, at 3:30am, we said goodbye to the hardworking and tirelessly energetic Dennis, and turned out the lights in the kitchen...
Obviously, the project didn't end there, and there were better days ahead. Days of progress after full nights of sleep that were satisfying and exciting and rewarding. You'll hear all about those days in the next entry, but for now, you must wait as we did.