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07 March 2009 @ 09:08 pm
Homeowner blithering ahead. Kitchen-centric. Picture heavy.

First off, let me apologize. I fully intended to take true ‘before’ pictures but I wanted to tidy up before snapping pics so you wouldn’t think the worst of me. Between laziness and distraction, I never quite got around to it. Let’s just pretend that any messiness is entirely due to the chaos of packing as well as ripping the cabinets from the walls.

Since I failed you on the before pics, let me paint you a picture: the kitchen is a narrow U-shape. As you stand in the living room looking down the length of the kitchen, the sink is directly opposite; that’s the base of the U. The big sliding glass door, our main entry, is to the right, as is the main work area (a butcher block shelf) and the stove. On the left is the closet/pantry and entry to the basement are on your left. Along that same wall are the refrigerator and a few cabinets and shelves. The only counter space is on either side of the sink.

I’m going to be honest with you. Our kitchen is a bit of a shambles. We were well aware of that when we bought the house, but there was always the intention to someday, some way, make improvements. Alas, neither Don nor I are particularly handy when it comes to home repair. Or carpentry. Or any sort of work that doesn’t involve a crowbar and a rubber mallet. He’s better than I am, but still... when at long last we were to make repairs to the kitchen, I wanted it to look as if it were done by a professional. Lucky for us, we know one. My brother-in-law is a contractor and carpenter. Having seen the work he did on his own house, we’re more than delighted he’s agreed to take on this job. Sadly, he’s only available because the job market is a swirling mass of suck right now. We’ve refused any kind of family discount. Seriously, if we weren’t paying him full price, it’d be someone else, so why quibble?

*side note* Speaking of job markets and suck, I confess I feel a bit strange talking about this renovation. I know people are struggling and here I am going on about new cabinets and sheet rock and knobs. heh. ‘knobs.’ Don’s done a heap of freelance work in the past few months. We decided to invest that income in the house, and one of the best things you can do, apparently, is put your money into improving the kitchen. I just want you to know I’m not being profligate, I’m not gloating, and I’m not looking to make anyone feel uncomfortable or unhappy. I just want to record and/or share the process of turning a tiny, dark and horrid kitchen into a tiny, bright and smart kitchen. </end-middle-child-moment>

The problems with the kitchen were many. The backsplash was a particular eyesore. At one point it had been covered with ugly tile. The previous owner chipped the tile away, leaving cement and exposed metal bars and a hole where a stovepipe once went through the wall. It wasn’t a hazard, but it was seriously ugly.

The floor is plain but serviceable. Whoever laid the tile (I have a guess) set it on top of the existing wood floor, so it’s raised a good inch above the adjoining rooms.

The ceiling is another matter entirely. The previous owner made the decision to cover the old, stained sheet rock with unfinished wainscot. It was charming at first glance, and, indeed, for a couple of years after. After that, it grew oppressive, lowering an already low ceiling and darkening the main living space. The moldings were tacked on haphazardly. Everything was crooked.

And oh, the cabinets. Crooked. Painted but eternally greasy (due, in large part, to no hood over the stove). One set is so close to the stove it won’t open properly. Also, No. Freakin’. Counterspace.

And it’s wee, our kitchen. Narrow and wee. There’s not much we can do about that, but as to the rest? Well, let’s hope this turns out well.

Don had already begun removing the wainscoting before I thought to take a picture.


Would it have been really mean of me to turn the fan on at this point?


Removed the blades, did you? You win this round, barleymash. By the way, nice butt.


That's right. I'm talking to you.


So. Much. Wood.


Please pardon the screen door. I was far too lazy to step outside to take the shot.


Here's some of what we found underneath the wainscoting. First, a hole, plugged with a rag:


Another hole someone didn't bother to plug:


The Ghost of Wallpaper Past:


There was also a length of acoustic tile, but the picture was so blurry it wasn't worth posting. Here's where we tore down the first cabinet. Note the cruddy painted surface vs. the dark, stained surface. That's what we call lose/lose.


And now - brace yourselves - the lack-of-backsplash:


The spice rack hanging on the wall is the same color as my bedroom. Unfortunately, said spice rack is configured so as to be just a wee bit too short to hold commercial spice bottles. Bah. Bah, I say!

Enough about the spice rack. Back to the backsplash... are you ready?


Zoë Tzoethor on March 8th, 2009 03:46 am (UTC)
I <3 you so much. Can I come live with you? :)

I friended your husband/partner, so you should reassure him I'm not a creepy stalker.

Good luck -- I'll be posting pics of my minor devastation soon! :)
Kel: fairy tale loveladyjoust on March 9th, 2009 03:39 am (UTC)
Oh, sweetling. I do &hearts you, too. And just so you know, you are always welcome. Always.

As to friending my sweetie, Don has been assured you are non-stalkery. In turn, he felt I should advise you it's a huge deal if he updates twice yearly.

Ratesjul: Emma Aloneratesjul on March 8th, 2009 04:50 am (UTC)
You're getting some GORGEOUS photos out of that camera!

I'd forgotten much of your kitchen, though I did remember the tinyness of it (and the gorgeousness of the food that came out of it).

As for your stimulating the economy - you aren't making me feel like you're bragging at all. Enjoy the newness as it comes to pass!
Kel: Han *Who me?*ladyjoust on March 9th, 2009 03:40 am (UTC)
I'm really working at the photos. Right now, it's more Photoshop helping me fix my glaring errors. Still, I persevere!

*hugs and hugs* I do miss you, lady. And I'm completely stealing the notion that this is my patriotic duty. Hey, I'm just stimulating the economy!
Fjordhopperfjordhopper on March 8th, 2009 02:00 pm (UTC)
Re-doing the kitchen is one of the best investments you can make in a house, so you are investing your money in a good way! It is amazing what you find when you start demolition, it's like archeology, you are uncovering the history of your house. Yeah, you might find problems, but you can now correct them, which is always good.

I do remember your kitchen, and I think the lightening of the ceiling and all the new shiny goodness will really make it feel bigger and happier! Looks like you are off to a great start!
Adrienne C.adrienne429 on March 8th, 2009 03:14 pm (UTC)
The pictures came great. I'd like to see more as you move along. I'm just dying to do something, anything to our kitchen.
And you're right. Every show that talks about uping the value of your home says the two most important things to upgrade are the kitchen and bathrooms. They are a must!
Mairearanturas on March 8th, 2009 04:56 pm (UTC)
Yea! New kitchen....

On a side note, does the brother-in-law/contractor do small jobs? I have a few things I would like to do and would prefer to have a referred contractor than play russian roulette with the phone book.
Kelladyjoust on March 9th, 2009 03:45 am (UTC)
What do you need done? I'll pass the word along to my BIL. Chances are he's up for it, but I don't want to commit him unless I make certain he's good for your specific needs.

And just so you know, he's really freakin' good at what he does and is also a lovely, sweet and down to earth guy. In case you were wondering. :P
Mairearanturas on March 10th, 2009 01:00 am (UTC)
Eventually I want to redo my bathroom, but that may not be this year. There are a couple of things I want to do before that like a new medicine cabinet and I have some finishing things and repairs like baseboards and door moulding.
Nimnimue9 on March 9th, 2009 01:30 pm (UTC)
I'm excited for your new kitchen! I know how important it is to like the space you spend all that time cooking in. Also, adore the picture of Don with the huge tracts of paneling.
Kel: touching stardustladyjoust on March 10th, 2009 12:48 am (UTC)
I'm excited, too! Since we never had a housewarming, I'm thinking that once this project is complete we'll just have a kitchenwarming. I'll keep you posted! :D

Also, adore the picture of Don with the huge tracts of paneling.

Okay, that made me snort. You win! But I do agree: that's a great pic of my sweetie.
Nimnimue9 on March 10th, 2009 08:42 pm (UTC)
Whee, kitchenwarming! Also, I'd love to see you guys again some time; I have my brother all month, so no bars, but I also hear that you eat food...?
Jaredcrimsontom on March 9th, 2009 01:34 pm (UTC)
It's always uglier before it gets better, but you'll definitely increase the value of your investment (home) and hell, finidng the holes in the ceiling was worth it in terms of lost heat, water, etc. Wow!

Now if only they'd fix the pipes in my apartment. I love this stuff. Just wish I had the time to do it myself.

As for feeling bad about the economy, etc. and your timing....Julia and I are in a little bit of the same area in terms of looking for new couches, etc. You and Don handled your money correctly. You didn't buy a place you couldn't afford and get over you head in a bad mortgage. You both have jobs and aren't slacking off in them. You should be able to reward yourself with something you've been planning/needing for a long time. I'm not saying "so what?" to the people that are in bad situations, but we can't just stop living our lives...plus we're putting money into the economy aren't we??