Stick a Fork in It

Because the kitchen is done!  All it took was a little sanding and painting on the ceiling.  Ben hates sheet rock work, hence the reason we just finished it.  And mostly pressure to get the house ready to sell.  But, it’s done, and that’s what matters.
If you recall, before we started work, the kitchen looked like this:
Almond appliances, orange oak cabinets, too small drawers and cabinets, and one large wall trapping the cook in the kitchen.  After months of work and tearing everything out to start from scratch, we’ve created this:
A warm, open, light filled, and functional kitchen.
Replacing the soffit with cabinetry has added even more storage.
A low profile vent hood keeps the focus on the wood counters and new cabinetry.
And I can’t forget the wall of marble tile.  Oh how I love thee.
We will definitely miss this kitchen, but it was such a learning process and we love how it turned out.
Because Ben built our cabinets, our total kitchen budget is about what our store-bought cabinet budget was.  Yes, that is the single most money-saving thing we did.  As you can see, our appliances more than made up for that savings.
So what do you think?  Every potential buyer has commented about the kitchen and how nice it is, which makes us happy.

P.S.  If you haven’t been following from the beginning, you can catch up on all things kitchen renovation in these posts.

Everything, Including the Kitchen Sink

Wednesday afternoon we finished installing the new 3/4 inch thick stained hickory floor.  And we’re completely in love.

With the floor done, we started installing the cabinets Thursday morning.  Because we’re washing dishes in the bathroom sink, getting a sink was a pressing matter.  Rather than incorporating the toe kick in the cabinet, we cheat and build separate toe kicks.  Two by fours are the perfect height and they’re durable, so Ben makes boxes three inches smaller than the overall cabinet size.

Using long screws, Ben attached the boxes to the floor.

That part went quickly.

For the next several hours, Ben drilled several holes in our floor and ran tons of wires.

Wires for what?  Ben’s awesome idea.  Under cabinet lighting.  And not the halogen task lighting.  Rope lighting under the toe kicks.  A similar idea to the crown molding accent lighting in our master bedroom.  We’ve had several people ask how to do this.  I’m no electrician, so don’t quote me here, but Ben starts with a piece of rope light with a plug-in end.  He cuts the plug off and strips the wires.  Then it’s just a matter of connecting the proper wires to one another and capping everything off with wire nuts and electrical tape.

The posts we have on each side of the stove are mostly for support.  In an effort to keep the posts as small and unobtrusive as possible, we decided to put our switches inside the cabinets on the living room side.  We’ll have a bar top across the cabinets with a six-foot opening between for bar stools.  Here’s one of the cabinets by the kitchen entrance.

Don’t follow?  Here’s what it looks like from the kitchen side.

While Ben ran wires, Everett and I cheered him on.  Every time Ben nailed or screwed something down, Ev would say, “Nice!”


Ben took the afternoon off to go hunting.  Fortunately, he shot a deer, so he’s done for the rest of the year.  Unfortunately, we still didn’t have a kitchen sink.  Which means he had to clean his deer in our bathroom.  To say I was displeased is an understatement.  We needed a functioning sink, stat.  Friday morning Ben started working again, setting cabinets.

A small kitchen requires maximizing every square inch.  Even though we’re losing an entire wall of upper cabinets, we’re gaining a lot of usable space.  In fact, the only wasted space is this three-inch gap between the peninsula and trash drawer.  The only reason for this is drawer clearance.

Shortly before the sink could be installed, Ben brought it up from the basement.


A little more wiring for the dishwasher, which we ordered and should be here on Thursday, before the sink could go in.

Then some plumbing.

After five days without a kitchen sink, we were back in dish washing business.

Then we had a little leak.  Everything worked, but the leak came from dishwasher hook up.  Because we don’t have a dishwasher.

Duct tape over the hole works for now.  And here’s the sink side in its current state.  Oh, you’ll also see we have the trash under the sink.  After buying a 10.1 gallon trash and putting it in the trash drawer we realized there would be a fair amount of wasted space above it.  Luckily, it fits perfectly under the sink.  Along with another can for recycling.  Which means, we’re gaining a small drawer stack in the place of the original trash drawer.

In other news, we hoped the wood for the counters would arrive this past Thursday.  Sadly, it didn’t.  Now we’re shooting for Wednesday.  Fingers crossed it comes in and we like it so we can get counters in.  Though, we’re lucky because Ben built the cabinets with flat tops, so we have a solid work surface.  Things could definitely be worse.

Many of you commented that we’re making quick progress.  Even though we’re living with a torn apart kitchen, I have to agree.  Everything is back to functioning order and it can only get better from here.

What do you think of the kitchen so far?  Progressing faster than you anticipated?  Just wait until you see tomorrow’s post.  Yes, that is a teaser.

That Was Hard(wood)

It took more muscle and time than we hoped, but we’ve successfully pulled up the tile floor, cement board, subfloor and installed the new hardwood.  The rebuilding has officially started.  Ben tore out the tile on Monday night, which left us with a lovely kitchenette.  Simply a stove, microwave, and one cabinet.

He took the week off to work on the kitchen.  Fun vacation, right?  With the tile up, Ben, with a little of my help, painstakingly tore up the cement board.

Seriously, it was a pain.  The screws from the tile backing held like crazy and the nails were abundant.  Luckily, Handy Sammy came to help.

Removing the sub floor took a lot of muscle.  Some areas received too much muscle.  The boards flexed and some broke.  I’m not going to lie, I freaked out a little.

As always though, Ben had a plan.  True to form, things have to get worse before they can get better.  So, Ben started by cutting off the damaged boards, leaving a hole between the joists.

Actually, this happened in four spots.

Did you notice the chaos and mess?  And the fridge placement?  Anyway, back to fixing the gaping holes in our floor.  Ben screwed pieces of two by fours on each side of the hole into the joists first.

Then he covered the holes with pieces of 3/4 inch wood material.

Before we could get started on the floor install, we screwed every board  to the joists, just to prevent any squeaking.  That was a pain in the butt, too.  I’ve never had to use a drill for that long.  Makes me want to invent a cushy drill grip.  After all that screwing (haha), we laid down the rosen paper.

We had to nail one row of the wood perpendicular to the existing dining room hardwood floors.  It would have been way to difficult to line the new floor up with the old floor if we hadn’t done this.  Unfortunately, Ben laid this with the groove against the dining room floor.

Which meant he had to start installing from the stove side.  He had a few wires and the gas line to cut around.  The first few rows are always the most difficult to install, because everything is based off that.

Fortunately, the 5 inch wide planks installed quickly and easily.  While Ben installs the planks, I select which boards will go where.  I have a method to my madness, though.  First, I pick out the pieces of wood I like best.  These will go front and center.  This wood had tons of pieces with large knots, so I made two more piles.  One of the knotty pieces (not to be confused with naughty) and another of clean wood.

We had to remove all the trim that was against the floor, too.  The new floor is 3/4 of an inch lower than the old floor, so we’ll have to lower everything.

Ben borrowed an air nailer from a friend, which made the job quick and easy.

He wanted me to show you how great of a multi-tasker he is.  Here, he’s using both of his hands to nail and his foot to hold the clamp down.  Ooooh, ahhhh.

And here’s the floor we finished as of a few hours ago.

And now for some detailed shots.  The transition between the original flooring in the dining room and the new floor.

Toward the wall, Ben had to face nail because the other nailer can’t get that close to the wall.  That’s okay though, this won’t be seen as the cabinet will cover everything.

The back door landing looks great, too.  We still have to add a piece along the top of the stairs.

Now you’ve seen the most recent progress.  I’m hoping to get at least a sink back some time today or tomorrow.

Have you ever ripped out a beast of a floor?  Put down pretty new hardwoods?  Do you prefer wider planks?

After the Dust Settles

Yesterday was Ben’s birthday.  His gift?  No more kitchen tile.  Pretty awesome of me, right?  Actually, it was his idea.  I was going to take him out to dinner; he insisted on removing the floor.  Before the floor could come out, we had to tear out the cabinets.  Yeah, our kitchen is no longer usable.

Ben unhooked the sink plumbing and faucet.  Vincent helped.

Buh bye, backsplash!  You and your swollen middle will not be missed.

After unscrewing the cabinets, Ben started hauling everything out.  His dad wants the cabinets for his shop.

To keep the kitchen as usable as possible, we rotated the stove to the other side and put an old cabinet next to it.  We’ve down graded from a full kitchen suite to a kitchenette.

Then the real demo work began.  The tiles came up rather easily, but the cement board did not.  And we have to tear the floor down to the subfloor.

Ben pulled up part of the plywood floor to see how difficult it would be.  Turns out, one of the boards below had a small hole.


Then, Ben went back to tearing up the floor.  What a mess.  But it has to get worse before it can get better.

To tear out the tile, Ben used a pick axe.  Pick axe plus muscle equals mega damage.  In the best way possible, too.

Here’s what everything looked like after four hours.  Tile anilihated.  Mission accomplished.

And, things are looking up.  Literally.  Here’s what the ceiling looks like with three coats of mud.

Obviously I took these pictures before the demo began.  Sanding still to come.

Do I get the best birthday giving award?  I thought so.  Now we have another long day of demo and work.


Everyone can use a little ventilation.  Unless you’re Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton and you’re getting out of a car with swarms of paparazzi watching every move you make.  Maybe I should say every kitchen should have adequate ventilation, especially over the range.  Just to pull the smells, heat, and moisture out.  It comes in really handy when you burn something, too.  Not that I’ve ever done that.  My point is, after tearing down the wall between the kitchen and living room on Saturday, Ben installed our new vent hood.  I briefly explained our vent hood choice in this post, but we’re sharing all the details now.

We started with a 40 inch insert, with plans to hang it as close to the ceiling as possible.  You know that nice hole we opened up?  Yeah, we didn’t want to cover any of it.

To get started, Ben found the center of the wall and marked it.  Of course, it came out on a joist.  Ben did some bracing in the attic and then proceeded to cut a hole in the sheet rock and joist to run the duct work.

Our vent hood, like most, had one flat side and three angled sides.  Typically, the flat side would be mounted against the wall and the remaining three sides could be boxed out either square or following the angles.

For about two seconds, we considered building a box that followed the angles of the fan, but we decided not to for two reasons.  Number one, we’re planning to add decorative trim and paint everything white and the angles would complicate that.  Number two, Ben worried (and I did too after he mentioned it) about grease and dust settling on the angle and we’d have a perma-dirty hood.  We opted for the simpler square box frame.  Ben carefully measured the vent and built a 2 by 4 box surround to support the new fan.  He screwed it into the joists to make sure it was securely held in place.

In goes the vent, held 1/2 inch from the bottom using the adjustable brackets that came with.  Smartie Ben used a piece of sheet rock as the guide for the spacing.  You’ll also notice that we put the flat part to the front.  This is because our vent has several buttons (for lights and various fan speeds) on the inside of the insert.  I’m short and this sucker (literally) is tucked right up to the ceiling.  If we had turned it 180 degrees, I wouldn’t be able to reach the buttons without either burning myself or getting a chair to stand on.  Neither of which seem ideal.

With everything wired up, Ben covered the box with sheet rock.  Now, our giant hole in the wall looks something like this.

In all honestly, I was a little shocked at how deep it was.  In the week since we took the cabinets and soffit down, I had gotten used to the open feel.  And I really liked how much more open everything was after knocking down the wall.  So this seemed heavier than I anticipated.  But, I was so happy the vent hood only drops 1/2 inch below the sheet rock of the support beam.

Not to mention getting task lighting and a fan back.

And it’s still pretty from the underside.

The 1200 CFM fan provides more than enough air circulation and it’s still quiet.  After installing, Ben turned it on the highest setting and we could still hear the music and carry on a normal conversation between the kitchen, living, and dining areas.  Two weeks ago, this is what you saw when you walked in the front door.

And now, behold our kitchen (and Vincent’s head) from the same angle.

It was difficult to get a good picture with all that new light streaming in from the dining room and sink windows.  Still more sheet rocking to do.  And, don’t pay attention to the too tall stove back, microwave, and jumble of wires.  If you’re concerned about safety, we’ve securely closed off the outlets so little fingers can’t get in.

Consider your self up to date on the kitchen progress.  Hopefully we’ll get some sconces, finish up some cabinet work, and look for countertops soon.  Of course we’ll keep you updated on any and all progress.  You’ve been warned.  Annoying minute details are in your future.

The boys and I are off to do some shopping.  Cross your fingers for a good deal!