Jumping in the Kitchen Headfirst

As name implies – there’s no going back. We’re kitchen committed now. Mike… my poor guy. He’s going to need a serious break after all this.

Let’s roll the clock back to Saturday AM. My monumental task of the day is a mission of epic proportions. The entire kitchen needs to be emptied. The contents of the entire kitchen cannot be in the kitchen. Dangerous, sharp, and spillable/breakable items cannot be within the reach of our 2.9 year old. The entire house needs to be meticulously cleaned. The entire kitchen needs to be meticulously cleaned. Why? Well, here’s a portion of the big kitchen secret. It’s all being filmed.

I can’t divulge more then that at this time, but, very HGTV-like, we needed to prepare a proper “before” shot. Clean, clutter free, but still appearing as though someone really truly uses this kitchen. (Can’t clean the counters completely, can’t remove pictures from the wall or plants from the window sill.)

It took the entire day. Literally, the entire day, to do this. First, I cleaned areas not the kitchen. Bathroom, mudroom, living room. Did the dishes. Did the laundry. Made a quiche. Started marinating a pulled pork to put in the crock pot Sunday AM. (Preparing for a difficult-to-cook situation. Can you tell I’m an old pro at this??!)

Once that was accomplished, it was on to the kitchen. I started with the clutter. The stuff on the fridge, off. The pens/pencils, vitamins, and other junk on the counter, off. Then, time for the cabinets. I took a deep breath and went through them one by one, stuffing stuff wherever stuff could be stuffed. I threw out some things. I brought some other things to the basement for storage. Discovered I had at least 10 Coors Light cooler bags. (No new cooler bags this summer!) And slowly, all the cabinets were emptied.

There’s stuff on the piano. There’s stuff under the piano.There’s stuff on the wall of the mudroom where I removed Mikey’s easel and our shoes. The glasses and tupperware are in the laundry basket, in the laundry closet.

There’s stuff on top of the kegerator. 

There’s stuff on the living room shelf thing – and on top of it.

There’s stuff on top of the entertainment center. Plates and bowls are in one end table. Pans are under the couch.  

There’s stuff in and on the bar.

There’s fondue pots in the hallway. I felt like some sort of super-organized hoarder. Stuff, stuff, and more stuff everywhere. And yet the house was still clean.

I discovered the original yard sale price tag from when we purchased our current cabinets. $200 for the whole set w/sink. We didn’t take the sink. Either that or we took it and threw it out.

Without much time to reminisce, I continued on. Once the kitchen had been emptied, it had to be cleaned. I was exhausted, but cleaned and tidied what I could before calling it a night… because that’s what it was at that point. Night.

Sunday morning, we were all up early. After breakfast, Mike got out the buffer (yes, an automotive buffer) and cleaned the stove and all our stainless steel. (Refrigerator, stove, and dishwasher.) And if you think cleaning your stove with a buffer is crazy… well, you should see what an awesome job it does. Just put a little glass cooktop cleaner on there and have at it. (Make sure you’ve wiped the surface free of all crumbs, etc first – else you could scratch your cooktop.) Meanwhile, I tidied up more, cleaned more, vacuumed, and swiffered. 

In a groundbreaking first-time-ever event, we were finished before the film crew arrived. (Usually never finished on start time – whether it’s a party or any event.) Then, for the next hour or so we did all our “befores” and even took down a few cabinets for show. It all went surprisingly smoothly and the crew was out and on their way on time, leaving us to do the rest on our own.

Everything went very well at first. The tops all came down no probs. There was a little mildew on the upper wall by the stove. Ok. No sign for alarm yet. The bottom on one side of the stove, no probs. Sink – pain in the butt, but not really a problem. After everything was disconnected, it wouldn’t come out. We had to use a sazall to cut the countertop around it off. Dishwasher unhooked with no problem. Shelf demo was fun and exciting.

Then we got to the rest of the cabinets on the back wall, on the left side of the stove. Problem. The cabinet right next to the stove pretty much fell apart as it was taken out. As in, all the sides collapsed. Why? Water damage. Behind the damaged cabinet, more bad news. Moist and spongy drywall. (Three words you never want to hear together in the same sentence.) Behind the moist and spongy drywall, yucky insulation. More bad news. Prognosis: the ceiling is leaking down the wall. How do we know? We can see the trail of cracked paint on the ceiling and now moist & spongy drywall, yucky insulation, and a damaged cabinet on the wall. Treatment: immediate removal of grossness and immediate emergency roofing.

Cracks in ceiling paint - mildew on upper part of wall

Potion of no drywall = bad. See that blackness on the insulation?

First, of course, we finished removing the cabinets and countertop and hauled them all away. Then, we ripped out the entire kitchen back wall. Drywall and insulation. Mike examined the sill and the studs for water damage and luckily, everything looked good. He spent the rest of the afternoon on wiring, since the new layout moves the stove over and incorporates a microwave on top. (A couple outlets needed to be moved… and we had an extra wire in there already, having planned for possible future stove-vent wiring. Smart, huh?) I spent the rest of my afternoon doing what else – cleaning up.

Hope future generations appreciate my insanity

So, changes in the wiring + no outlets in stock = no stove. Smart again with the dinner in the crock pot! The refridge is of course on its own breaker, no problems there. We did however have insulation in stock, extra from the basement bathroom. Most of that went up Sunday night before we called it quits.

We also put a call into our roofer/builder, Timmy. He did our entire other roof – everything but the kitchen, which we held off on at that time. He also did much of the finish work on our farmer’s porch. And let me say, he’s a great resource for questions or advice in either of those fields. Bruins fan – great guy. Another asset to the neighborhood. Anyhoo, Mike briefed him on the situation and they agreed that a rubber roof was the only way to go on a poorly sloped roof like our kitchen’s. Problem – you can’t rubber roof in temps under 50 degrees. But, and this is good prep for a new rubber roof anyway, he advised us to ice & water the entire thing. That should hold us off until spring.

Now, it’s the end of Sunday night. There’s stuff everywhere. There’s tools and building materials everywhere. The stove is off. The drywall is down and insulation is up. The truck is full of demo. In prep for the new kitchen, we had not planned on replacing any drywall. We had only planned for fixing cracks along the adjacent wall and re-painting. (No paint behind old cabinets.) We had certainly not planned on a new roof! The wiring, we knew about, and that was relatively easy. There are two pipes for the upstairs heat that need to be re-routed that we had forgotten about. Kitchen sink plumbing can come after the fact, thank god.

And the new cabinets are coming – this Thursday! Gulp. Everything must be completed by this weekend.

I Like to Tape It, Tape It, Mud It, Mud It

As promised, all the taping was completed on Tuesday night. I could hardly believe it. The guys worked from 6:30pm – 8:30pm and finished all the taping.

Wednesday, Mike picked up some corner beads and masking tape on his way home. Then, from about 6:30pm – 8:00pm, he and our neighbor finished installing and mudding all the corners. And, they did all the mudding and whatnot around the tub/shower. (That’s what the masking tape was for.)

I could hardly believe it. It’s looking awesome. Incredibly awesome. Incredibly fast. (This is what happens when you work with a professional.)

The two of them will be back at it tonight and probably Friday night. And that’s it. Paint-ready.

Full Speed Ahead

On most of these holiday Mondays, I feel like I’m the only one working. Yup, no three day weekend this Presidents Day. But while I was sitting at my desk, Mike continued to make progress at home, hanging more drywall. He even did some mudding in the closet.

He asked me to pickup some drywall tape on the way home, which I did. And when I arrived, I was surprised to find our neighbor pulling in almost right behind me. The two of them did some taping in the closet and then Mike continued on by himself for the rest of the evening.

I joined him after Mikey’s bedtime and we finished hanging the drywall. 100% complete.

Our neighbor will be over again tonight after work… He thinks he can have the entire room taped within an evening. A couple more days of mudding and sanding after that and we could be painting by this weekend. This, I did not expect. And I doubt we’ll have time to be painting this weekend, but you never know. Saturday night is a possibility…

It's Not Easy Being Green Drywall

The madness of the next four weeks began on Saturday, and I don’t expect it to slow down until at least 3/11. Saturday morning the electrician arrived and completed all our wiring in under an hour and a half. The recesssed lights, the outlets, the switches – everything – all set.

Sunday was outrageously insane. Immediately following breakfast, Mike called over our drywall’n neighbor to help him measure and determine the right amount of drywall sheets. Before 10am, the whole family was packed in the truck for the weekly trip to our favorite orange-themed home improvement warehouse.

This, we have down to a science.

Upon entry, we split up – Mike with the big cart, heading for drywall, and Mikey and I in the racecar cart headed towards electrical. While Mike got the drywall, screws, mud, and insulation, Mikey and I made a return, picked up plastic sheeting, a 2’ closet light, and a pancake box for the vanity light. We were even lucky enough to score a free two-person plastic kids sled at customer service. (I guess they don’t expect to sell them this winter.)

We all met back up at the register, having coordinated our shopping list across the store via our cell phones. Immediately I asked, “Where’s the drywall?” There was none on the cart. Then I saw the forklift… with half a pallet – 20 sheets of the mold resistant green stuff. Boy, did that add up. 20 sheets plus 2 buckets of mud plus 3 packs of R15 plus drywall screws, plus all the stuff in our racecar cart. To the tune of over $500.

Didn’t matter – we were on an orange-plastic funded mission. And we loaded up everything and headed for home. Our neighbor pulled in to our driveway right after we arrived. He and Mike unloaded a few things and got right to work.

The first challenge was the vent for the fan. Mike had the distinct pleasure of drilling through over 10” of solid PT to get a hole from the inside of the basement to the outside, at the bottom of the porch. (Think a thick sill plus thick farmer’s porch construction.) His hole saw couldn’t even make it all the way from one side. He had to go outside and drill from the opposite direction.

 By the time that was done, two of our other neighbors arrived and helped bring down all the drywall. Then, they took a break to walk around and mark the property borders using all their resources – online maps, printed maps, a super long tape measure, and a can of orange marker paint. Then they made some clams casino. Then, I was sent on a beer run.

(You keeping up with all this?) Just a day in the life here in this neighborhood.

They all headed back downstairs after “lunch,” built a small soffet over the sink area to hide a pipe that just couldn’t have gone anywhere else, and then cut and hung all the ceiling drywall. All the neighbors left after the ceiling was up, but Mike and I pressed on.

I finished the insulation as Mike continued to hang drywall. He and I both put up the plastic sheeting over the insulation, an extra moisture barrier layer, and then Mike went back to hanging.

After Mikey and I had dinner, and after Mikey was in bed, Mike was still hanging. I rejoined him to clean up and we called it a night with over 75% of the room finished.

Next step, of course, da mud. But that may have to wait. Next Saturday begins kitchen demo madness. I have to first empty everything from all the cabinets and prepare the room for demo. Sunday, demo.

For the week following, we’ll be in a rush to finish the drywall, paint, and small amount of electrical in prep for the arrival of the new cabinets.

Dam It Jim I'm an Editor, Not An Electrician

Mike did not call our electrician last week as promised. Over the week, he’s been installing boxes and doing some initial wiring… and had somehow by Sunday he had convinced himself that he could do it all by himself. All by himself with a little help from the internet. I said nothing until he started asking me questions about GFI’s. Me?

If it’s come down to I’m-The-Most-Knowledgeable-Person-In-The-Room about electrical… well, I think it’s time to call in a professional. Mike actually agreed. He made the call and scheduled for next weekend. (Almost too easy.)

And me? I’ve got to call on cabinet delivery dates as soon as I remember to grab the number. I’m thinking electrical this weekend – kitchen demo next weekend. That would leave us 1-2 weeks to do drywall and all other previously listed changes. Speaking of drywall, we’ll be ready for that downstairs too once the electrical is complete.

HOLY CRAP THIS IS ALL COMING TOGETHER! My Bday’s March 9th… I think I’m going to have a party.

Style of Cabinets - Color Isn't Very Accurate Here

Color is More Accurate Here, A Little Lighter - Swatch is Countertop

Kitchens and Bathrooms

It’s happening… the kitchen. It’s happening. Again, I can’t go into how or why, but I can tell you that the cabinets have been ordered and they’ll be arriving in 4 weeks. Current kitchen demolition begins in probably 2 weeks. I am literally beside myself.

The cabinets are beautiful – all wood, real wood, in a beautiful redish maple color. The hardware is hidden, the drawers pull all the way out, and the lazy susan is real wood too! Plus, all hardware, a pull-out trash can cabinet, and a cutlery divider were all included. Our kitchen design will change slightly, as the stove will move over to the left. We’ll have a new microwave-holding cabinet above the stove that can also accommodate a vent if we decided to get one. (New microwave and vent not included, but I’m sure we’ll find a way to add them before summer arrives.) We’ll have a new corner cabinet that abuts the refriderator – YES! Plus, two additional cabinets above that new corner cabinet. (Which originally I didn’t want, but they were also included with this special package deal… couldn’t resist.) Also, at the end of the dishwasher, where we currently have an oddly built shelf, we’ll have a cabinet.

And did I mention new countertops?! Not granite. More laminate. But they’ll be custom made and seamless. They’ll be light in color too – a change from the grey/black ones I’ve always loved. But I was talked into a light color and I’m really digging how it looks next to the cabinets. It coordinates well with the floor, which I hope isn’t too matchy-matchy. I usually prefer contrasting colors. But as I said, I was talked into it and feel good about it now.

So, what’s on the kitchen to do list in t-minus 2 weeks?
            Remove old cabinets, everything in them, and everything else in the kitchen
            Disconnect sink and dishwasher
            Fix and repaint all drywall (Except for the back wall, which we did last fall.)
            Temporarily remove one portion of the track light
            Move stove electrical to the left
            Move current outlet in stove’s way to the right
            Wire for new microwave/vent

We’ve decided not to re-tile under the cabinets. It’s just a pain in the butt and we don’t know if we have enough tile anyway. If we need to, we’ll use plywood to help level the non-tile cabinets with the tile cabinets.

Oh, and did I mention, we’re not the ones installing? Music to Mike’s ears. The first set of cabinets was such a royal pain that I promised him if we ever re-did the kitchen, I wouldn’t make him put the cabinets in.

There you have it. The countdown is officially on. I still can’t believe this is happening. Maybe I’ll wake up from it all tomorrow and be back in time to when we had no cabinets in the kitchen at all…

And the bathroom? Over the weekend I purchased ALL the electrical… or at least all I could think of. I bought a vent, one with high fan power, low noise, light, and night light. I bought a vanity light – modern design, nickle finish. I bought three Halo recessed light air-tight housings, two eyeballl trims, and one waterproof shower trim. I bought a dimmer switch. I bought lightbulbs for said Halo recessed lights. Dang it – I just realized. I forgot the closet light. Oh well. I bought a lot because I wanted to make sure I was over $299 to get 0% financing…. I made it! OVER $400 for all that.

Forgetting the extreme cost for a moment and returning to progress… Mike has already nailed up the recessed light housings and plumbed the vent. I keep reminding him to call our electrician, but I don’t think he’s done that yet. That will be next on the agenda. Once the electrical is complete, it’s insulation and drywall time.

Did I mention I picked out the paint color over the weekend too? It’s going to be perfect… with the tile… I can’t wait to see them together at last.

The Night Shift

Progress! Progress on a Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday at that. Progress in the evenings at that. Progress.

Wednesday night, Mike framed out the bathroom closet. It's going to be a good size - which is good, since we shop at BJ's.

Thursday night, the plumber was over and he and Mike did EVERYTHING. They finished the tub plumbing, put the tub in its place, and tested the entire system. No leaks! (First time for everything, right?) Mike even began cleaning up after the plumber left... but didn't get too far, since our shop vac's filter was plugged to the max. (Dang you Sears - the only place you can purchase your Crapsman Shop Vac Filter.)

Then, just this afternoon, I got a surprise call from Lowes! The tile is in... Early! What a nice end to the week. I picked it up on the way home and I am psyched! Mike picked up his filter and he is psyched! Ok, so maybe not, but it's still reason to celebrate, in my opinion.

Next step - electrical. Mike's bringing in a pro to help with this too - just to keep things safe with all the GFI's and such. Never can be too careful around water. But it shouldn't be a big to-do. A few lights, a fan, some switches, an outlet or two here and there... Done! Stay tuned...

And now for the other big news of the week. Big BIG news. The possible kitchen I alluded to in a previous post? It's happening! It's really really for really real happening. I can't share too many details, since this kitchen is a semi-covert operation. But I will tell you that we had a dude come out and measure. He drew out and planned a new design for us and found a great, economical cabinet manufacturer for us. I went and looked at everything - loved everything - and the order will be finalized on Monday.

There's only a little bit of stressful news to accompany all this good stuff... in prep for cabinet installation, there's a lot to do in very little time while we have a lot of other bathroom-related tasks going on. Of course all the old cabinets must be removed. Drywall needs to be fixed on walls and ceiling and repainted. No tile existed under the current cabinets - so we will need to add tile. The stove is moving over - hopefully the wire will reach.

Sometimes I wonder if all this is really happening....