Saturday, February 6, 2016

One Step at a Time: The Kitchen Renovation Edition, The Starting Point


I am not sure I am going to even try to fix it. :(

So maybe adding the island should've been The Starting Point, but it wasn't so this is. My blog, my changing the rules to suit my own selfish needs. [wink]

You can click to enlarge if you are so inclined. In this case, bigger is worse(r).

Like any renovation/remodel/redecoration of a room, our kitchen came with a list of specific challenges, some aesthetic, some functional, some both.

I think that nearly every single light fixture that came with the house is on a the Aesthetically Challenging List (ACL). The kitchen is right up there with the worst and also on the Functionally Challenging List (FCL). As is often the case in houses this size built in the 1970s or earlier, there was but a single light in the kitchen, overhead and, in our case, not even centered in the ceiling. So somewhere along the way someone added those track lights for task lighting on the counters. They do the job, but they aren't hardwired... so they take up outlet space AND the thumb wheel inline switch is impossible to keep clean. BLECH. Not to mention one of the lights' adjustable joint was broken and one was missing the lens thingie. Because of how the wire for these runs through the cabinetry, updating the lights is at the top of the list.

We hate the ceiling texture, but it's just such a HUGE project...

Another challenge that lands on both lists is the existing cabinetry. First, I want to say that it's well-made enough, has it's rustic charm, and we don't hate it. The counter height is good, too. As far as the ACL, the color is nice, but just too much of that tone in that room and it doesn't work with the new island which we knew when we chose the island's finish. And because they are made from fir which is quite soft, they're kind of beat to heck. Then there is the open shelving and glass-fronted upper cabinets. These are nice features for people with fewer spices in matching jars and fewer or prettier utensils and such. We've been living with a temporary fix for the glass, but want to upgrade that to something more durable and opaque. I'd also like to add a crown moulding type detail to the top just to give them a more finished look. As for the FCL, the uppers are mounted slightly below standard which means some small appliances don't work well, especially where someone added under cabinets lights (also not hardwired and not something we ever use). That corner shelf behind the stove is sagging, because it is NOT ATTACHED ANYWHERE BUT TO THE CABINETS ON EACH END! I guess whoever added that didn't know how gravity works... AT ALL. So they popped a pre-made furniture leg in there... but one that wasn't quite tall enough. I have to assume that this is what has pulled the two cabinets on either end out of level. Another thing is that one of the drawers will not stay closed because there is a bit missing from the carcass below it.

A chunk missing, holes from something someone else had mounted and removed. Luckily, I like a distressed finish, but still I'll be doing quite a few repairs before painting.

The cabinets are overdue for an oiling, but I have been putting that off, because I didn't want to add any extra work to preparing them for painting. The look nice when oiled, but I also don't want to continue to have a finish that I have to refresh every few months. Or even every few years.

We really like the wood counters. BUT once we refinish the cabinets, they'll need to be refinished in a different color for the ACL. For the FCL, we'll be applying a WAY more durable finish and lots of it. The former homeowners were using tung oil twice a year. That's not such a big deal, except that it is a windows-open finish and we live in Montana where having the windows open enough for really good ventilation is not feasible from October thru May.

We think it's neat that even though the counters are wood, they are not butcher block.

The wallpaper. It's just an inevitability that unless you spend money for the really good stuff, all wallpaper will eventually be outdated and of course, tastes vary widely. So removing this wallpaper is definitely an ACL line item. Now, I have never in my life seen vinyl wallpaper as a kitchen backsplash until we moved here. Maybe it was just that I never noticed, because now I have seen it in other, newer homes, as well as in pictures online. I have no idea how well it functions and hope that I am not horrified at the condition of the drywall behind it where it meets the counter. Hopefully, in retrospect this will NOT also be a FCL line item.

As part of the backsplash redo, we'll replace the switches, outlets and plates. The existing outlets are "upside down," loose, and some even stained with wood finish. The covers, where they exist, are wallpapered. We'll add a CGFI outlet where required by code dnd good sense as well as change the color to blend with whatever the backsplash color ends up being - I have a good idea what that will be, but YOU will have to wait.

No cover plate and no real way to put one on w/o some serious jury rigging. Plus wood stain or something all over it. Stay classy, VME (Vast Mountain Estate).

At some point they must have encountered an issue with the wallpaper-as-backsplash, because they made this for behind the sink. The tiles look collected, which I think is neat, but they are not our collection nor in our color scheme. Plus they have that wood frame and the cut-off tile on the right. Mostly this is a ACL situation, but there's some functionality to gain from getting rid of the wood frame both from a wood+moisture standpoint and the room the wood takes up back there making it hard to clean and dry that area.

At this point, I am hoping to accomplish these projects over the next couple-few months, ending with refinishing the counters during open-window season and adding a "proper" backsplash. Right now, I think the order is as follows:

. Light Fixtures
. Remove the corner shelf in order to
. Remove the wallpaper (repair walls as necessary, get a temp solution for backsplash)
. Paint walls above cabinets, around wood stove
. Cabinet repair, move, and modify.
. Refinish cabinets
. Maybe try to do something with that terrible brick veneer wood stove surround?
. Refinish counter tops
. Install backsplash, probably tile
. Replace outlets, switches and plates.


Eventually, we want to replace the sink with a deeper one that is divided in more of a two-thirds/one-third way rather than half-and-half. At that time we'd like a new faucet that is taller and probably with the integrated sprayer an a single control - fewer surfaces to clean! Eric really wants a gas cook top, so somewhere done the line we'll replace the stove. I want the oven to stay electric, so that means dual-fuel which means extra costly. And of course adding a propane tank and the plumbing for it is a big expense. Maybe even before then we can add a ventilation hood over the stove. Someday a new refrigerator, too. But they work and are fine for now, even though I think these are more on the FCL.

Someday we'd also like to replace our GIGANTIC wood stove with something slightly smaller, probably enameled, and with a window in the door. We'll get rid of the poorly installed brick veneer surround and base; hopefully replacing it with some kind of slab, solid surface where ash, dust and dog hair won't collect quite so easily.

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