Tag Archives | renovation chaos

Kitchen renovation: Demo

Demo is now behind us, and whew, are we glad!


We have two kind of mantras about renovations that we’re constantly reminding ourselves of during any project:

  1. It has to get worse before it gets better. (Exhibit A above).
  2. Everything takes longer than you think.

Number one definitely held true, but we did stick to our timeline…so far. We’d allowed ourselves 2 weeks for demo and prepping for cabinet install, but I found myself both hoping it would go faster and also worrying that we wouldn’t make it (resulting in pushing back cabinet install). But amazingly enough, we finished in about a week and half of working every night and all weekend on 2 different weekends.

First, we packed the whole kitchen and put everything in the guest bedroom, which of course took longer than expected .


Then the first “demo” night we focused on the area around our now empty water heater closet. We needed to open up the space so that the cabinet people could get measurements to start building the pantry.



The next night we started taking out cabinets.


And were thrilled when we realized our floor tile was installed on top of 1/4″ underlayment. This meant 2 things. First, that our subfloor wasn’t in terrible shape like we thought (it was the underlayment warping that made it feel squishy) and secondly, that taking our tile out went really quickly!


But it did reveal this laminate underneath that we had to to scrape up in some areas.


Then we replaced a full sheet of plywood here. It had a lot of laminate on it, plus water damage from the dishwasher. And it’s going to be in the center of our kitchen where we walk the most, so we wanted to to make sure it was sturdy.


We also replaced a small section where the water heater had been. There were multiple small holes from pipes that had run to it, as well as a cut out for a floor vent that literally just opened into the crawl space. Perhaps for drainage? But weird. And cold.


While it was open, Andrew redid some plumbing for our fridge water line and added a shutoff valve that will be accessible from both sides (as always, that seemingly simple thing took way too long!)

Next up (and this was like a full week later, mind you), was ripping out the soffit and sheetrock on the ceiling and replacing it. It was already messed up around where we took out the pantry and there would be none where the soffit had been, so we figured we’d get the best result if we replaced all the sheetrock in this part of the kitchen.


Luckily, we had an awesome friend that helped Andrew install it. Try as I might, I cannot lift and hold a piece of drywall over my head.


Then (on yet another day) I scraped the remaining walls/ceiling of what was the water heater closet, because for some reason they popcorn-ed the whole thing!


We cut a new piece of sheetrock to fit, put it into the space, and built the wall behind it. That way we didn’t have to use tiny pieces that fit through the door.


Andrew also spent some quality time with our attic redoing wiring, re-positioning insulation, and all kinds of other fun things. We’re moving a few outlets and switches around, so that took a LOT of time.

I’m especially excited about this one! Previously, by the door to our garage we only had light switches for the garage and the laundry closet, but not one for the overhead kitchen light. So you would get home in the dark and stumble across the kitchen to find the switch. Or leave the door open and hope the cats didn’t escape!


Towards the end of last week, we finally were ready to have someone come in and mud the sheetrock. Normally Andrew does it, but normally we aren’t living without a kitchen. And OMG, it was amazing! They were here for like 3 hours and then about 2 the next day to sand and touch up. It’s so smooth and perfect!


It was at this point that it really felt like we were making serious progress! Here are some pictures that show the progression…





The last one was after priming. We weren’t sure if they would paint the wall or not when they did cabinets, plus we wanted to seal all that new drywall and mud.

The mudding people basically ended up tearing out the middle section of drywall from the wall and replacing all of it, and then skim coated almost all of the bottom section so it was really smooth.


Here’s an earlier picture of the fridge/pantry area…


And after.

The fridge will have a panel on that side, so we left it without sheetrock to save about half an inch for fridge/pantry space (which was recommended and carefully measured by the cabinet people).

And of course, we installed 1/4″ cement board over the whole floor to add stability and a moisture barrier for our future tile floors.


We decided to do it before cabinet install so that we wouldn’t cover up too much of the bottom of the cabinets with flooring and because it’s a lot easier. (This factored into the cabinet measurements, too…so many details!)


So there she is in all her glory, just awaiting cabinet install. 🙂

And meanwhile, our pile, which looked way bigger in person, sat outside awaiting pickup from the city for almost 2 weeks. Sorry neighbors! This was a little bit of a cost savings for us, too, since we didn’t have to rent a dumpster or bagster. Our city gives every house 2 free pickups every year of yard/construction waste.


They do have a size limit that our pile DEFINITELY exceeded, but thank goodness, they took it all! Now the real progress has started! And I need to leave my house because the paint fumes are giving me a major headache.

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Kitchen Renovation: Moving the water heater

Today is cabinet install day! I’m so giddy! But first, the water heater. Sorry to be behind here, but there was no time for blogging during demo! Not the most thrilling topic, but it is a key element in our kitchen plan (and there’s not much to see yet, so, patience). Previously, our water heater was located in this closet that opened into our living room.


The pantry is on the opposite side, and the fridge is in the alcove behind the shelf. Here’s our floor plan for reference.


Water heaters do give off some heat, so our coconut oil was always melted, chocolate was soft, and our potatoes sprouted and rotted too quickly. So much for the pantry being a cool, dry place.


When we started planning our kitchen, we had two different options.

Option 1: Leave the fridge/pantry/water heater as is, and modify the drawer next to the fridge so it doesn’t hit the fridge (you can read about that here). With custom cabinets that meant a shorter drawer. If we went with Kraft Maid it meant either a smaller drawer/cabinet base and then about a 6 inch filler piece next to the wall (talk about wasted space!), or no drawer and let the cabinet still bump the fridge. Sad.


Option 2: Move the water heater somewhere in the master bathroom/closet, rip out the pantry and move the fridge to the end of that area, and put a built-in cabinet pantry where the fridge was. This was only an option if we went with custom cabinets because Kraft Maid’s pantry cabinets are $$$.


After much hemming and hawing (and maybe some tears…gosh Andrew, stop crying so much!) we finally settled on option 2. Then we actually had to decide on a future layout for our master bathroom/closet (which clearly hasn’t been renovated yet). We had to nail this down now so we knew where to put the water heater. As if planning a kitchen wasn’t enough stress…


We spoke to an electrician about switching to an electric water heater (they aren’t too expensive, and we thought moving it might be easier than a gas line). But turns out our electrical panel is straight up FULL. Upgrading to a new one would be multiple thousands of dollars, and very likely more if the electrician had to bring things up to code (code has changed a bit since our house was built!) So…no thank you.

We didn’t want to mess with moving the gas lines ourselves (house blowing up = bad), so we got quotes from 3 different plumbers ranging from $900 up to $2300, and naturally, went with the cheapest. We scheduled it weeks in advance to be done the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. But when Andrew asked if he was licensed and bonded the week before, he stopped responding. So, I guess that’s a no? Hm… Monday comes (as in the day before he’s supposed to show up) and he’s still not responding. We sucked it up and called one of the others who was twice as expensive, but licensed and bonded (WOO!) and miraculously able to come the very next day to do the work! So, $1800 later, and our water heater is now here.


In our bathroom. Woo. But this room is next on the list, and then that sucker will be enclosed in a closet! For now, though, it’s just a little creepy to stare at this as I brush my teeth.


The very next day we started our demo and for about a week, used the previous water heater closet as the entrance to our kitchen since the doorway was covered in plastic.


While it ended up being a bit more than we expected, we’re pretty convinced it’s the right choice and is going to increase the functionality of our kitchen. Our living room might be a bit quieter without the water heater noise, I’ll get a small broom closet so I don’t have to wrestle it out from the side of the washer, the fridge will be moved further away from the stove creating a better working triangle, and we’ll get a much deeper pantry cabinet. Win, win, win…win.

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New year, new project

After 4 and a half years of living here, we finally decided to take on the office for our January project. Tbh, probably a January AND February project since we’re trying to stay involved in other things, too (and not fall of the face of the planet as we often do during projects.)

This is our office. Painted a lovely shade of baby puke yellow, that sometimes has a greenish tinge.


I don’t know who would choose this color, especially with oak floors, but they did, and we’ve had to live with the neon consequences. I actually do use my elliptical pretty regularly, and it’s not fun to stare at this fluorescent yellow for 30 minutes, let me tell ya.


Andrew’s the only one who ever sits in here, though, and with this color, I don’t know how he does it.


Especially with such terrible lighting. As in, outdated and gross. But also, not super bright.


We never bothered to fix this vent, I think because we thought we’d redo this room sooner. So it’s just been hanging by a screw from the ceiling for all these years. We keep it classy around here.


And just like all the other rooms before we fixed them, there are lots of reminders of curtain rods around every window (including painted over hardware.) Like, seriously, how many curtain rods does one window need? One. The answer is one.


And what even is this?!?!


Once other stuff is starting to come together, we’ll have to paint the closet doors. We already repainted this door last fall when we did all of our hallway doors (and replaced the knobs and hinges!), but now the trim looks even more dingy. We’ll get to that, too.


This room is just a hot mess. Which is why we’ve waited so long. The texture on this far wall is so messed up that we decided it would be easiest to add another layer of drywall over it and simply re-texture.


Luckily, there are no door or window casings on this wall that would be affected by increasing the wall thickness, and we had to remove trim anyway.

Now that you have some background, here’s what we’ve done so far! We started removing everything from the room on Saturday a few weekends ago, and then scraped the ceiling the next day. We’ve done both wet and dry scraping, and there are pros and cons to both. This time, to save time and keep dust down, we decided to do it wet.


It certainly goes much faster and takes less effort wet! We were done scraping in about an hour. One downside is that you can’t immediately move on to sanding because the drywall paper needs to dry first. So we took a break and did some binge-watching.


Later that week, we had a friend come over to help us install the drywall panels. Boy, those things are heavy. By some miracle, I was able to help Andrew carry the 3 sheets inside, but there was no way I was going to be useful in getting them on the wall.


And then Andrew began the mudding process. Which is LONG. He’s certainly not a mudding expert (and therefore not quick), but we’ve found that the key for us amateurs is thin layers of mud with lots of sanding in between. Mud and sand. Repeat a million times. Or like 3 or 4.


And just look at that popcorn free ceiling? Isn’t it great?


While he’s at it and has mud mixed, he’s also fixing holes/imperfections on the walls and cracks around the window (often cut out with a utility knife first), divots in the ceiling from screws, and taped edges of the ceiling.


We still have a lot more sanding and mudding to do before we can texture some of the touched up areas and then move on to more fun things, but progress is progress. They say it has to get worse before it gets better, but honestly, I think it’s better already!


Last minute, I decided to add a fun project to this room, so I’ll share more about that another time. For now, we still need to finish sanding, mudding, sanding some more, texturing touch up areas, priming everything and painting the ceiling before we even get to the fun part. Much to do.

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Finished framing

We’ve made some serious progress on our deck over the past week!! So much so that there hasn’t been time to post about it. We’ve done much more than just framing, but I can’t share a million pictures in one post, so let’s talk frame. Last time I posted it looked like this.


Andrew had already installed the new ledger board in the house, but we hadn’t gotten around to building the frame for the addition part. Building the frame and installing joists was the next step in the long process.

This part of the deck won’t have supports directly in the corners because of the red block wall, but we positioned the concrete footings as close to the edge as we could. There’s still about one foot of overhang.


Once we decided the angle we wanted for the front edge of the deck, it was just a matter of making a few mitered cuts, ensuring everything was level, and bolting the pieces together and to the 4×4 supports.

Then we installed our joist pieces about every foot. They’re notched on the back to sit on the ledger/hanger pieces in the house (and screwed in to keep them in place) and then screwed into the front side of the deck.


We installed 2 joists about 5.5″ apart from each other (the width of a piece of deck planking) between the new part of the deck and the original part because we will have one deck plank that runs the opposite way. This will create a seam between the two parts of the deck so we can use full length pieces on each side instead of having to offset the planking.


In order to support that piece, we had to run tiny little pieces the opposite way between those two joists. Again, these are every foot.


As you can see from the picture above, we decided to paint the frame. We used our old deck planks to create the support structure (they had used 2×6 s for everything instead of deck planking), but any piece that had previously been a plank was painted red.


Even though we were planning to butt our new planks up against each other as tightly as we could, we knew there’d still be gaps and we didn’t want red showing through. We got lucky and found a greyish exterior latex mess-up paint at Lowe’s for $5 the first time we went to look for one! We were super excited that we didn’t have buy a gallon at full price or keep waiting till a mess up was available!


Spoiler alert: We’ve already installed the planking (Eek! Be excited!), and as expected there are some gaps, so we’re really glad we did this extra step and don’t have any bright red showing through! The grey doesn’t emphasize the gaps like the red would have!


We were also struggling with what screw color to choose. Composite decking screws come in tons of colors, but coated wood deck screws only come in a standard tan and green at Lowe’s and HD (Andrew didn’t want to use galvanized because they don’t last as long, or stainless steel because they’re pretty pricey!). The same company makes other colors, but you have to order them in larger batches, pay shipping, and wait who knows how long to get them. Boo.

We got tan first and tried it out next to our stain. It was way too obvious for me, but I really didn’t think I wanted green, either! After a ton of deliberation and calling a million hardware stores to see if they sold brown (which they did not, except one that had one 25 lb bucket for $100, which sold the next day anyway), we tested out the green and decided to go with it.


As I said before, our deck planking is already on (stay tuned for pictures!!!) and I definitely think we chose right! Andrew chose a box of green that didn’t look quite as vibrant, and now that they’re in the deck they look very neutral! Hopefully, I’ll like them once the deck is stained! But we’ve encountered a small problem with that, too…but at this point all we can do is laugh.

I think this is the first project where we’ve really taken everything in stride and remembered the two most important rules of DIY:

1. Nothing ever goes quite as planned.


2. Everything takes longer than you expect!

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