Tuesday, February 23, 2016

One Step At A Time: Kitchen Renovation Edition, Baby Steps I

It has been two weeks since I posted about the kitchen renovation. There was about a week of non-activity due to a visit from a friend and a short road trip. Be warned: there is a little mild cussing in the next paragraph.

Man, what a sh!t show! I don't think I'd ever agree to work as a contractor on a job being "organized" like this one, let me tell you. Part sourcing issues, part shifting priorities, part remodeling your own kitchen while still trying to have a normal life; this is one piece-meal, bullsh!t approach to a project. And I mostly have myself to blame.

1. Remove wallpaper and repair walls (and ceiling) as necessary.

I removed the wallpaper from this corner of the kitchen down to the first layer which is adhered very well. The first layer of wallpaper in the downstairs bathroom is glued directly to the drywall, so I didn't want to get into that mess again by going too far. So I filled holes and primed with an oil-based primer. Most of this area will be a tiled back splash and cabinetry, but above the cabinets I also did a light skim coat to cover the seams and primed with a water-based primer. I also filled the smaller holes in the ceiling in that corner where the track lights had been installed and primed the repairs. I haven't found the gumption to deal with the big holes from the toggle anchors. Oof.

2: The flex-track lighting situation.

I got the second 10' piece of track installed, but we're still nailing down pendants or some other solution for over the kitchen island. We may have gotten quite a bit closer while searching around this week so stay tuned. I did, however, get the ceiling medallions installed under the first flex track! Yahoo! Something is complete! Except the pendants. Sigh. But parts are ordered and/or chosen... in deep, desperate hope that they will work.

3. Painted other walls.

I didn't plan to paint anything other than the area over the cabinets in the oven corner up to where I stopped removing wallpaper over the sink. But I still had some paint in my tray when that was done and I didn't want to waste it. Pouring it back into the can is a sure-fire way to contaminate the whole can and I have more than 3/4 of a gallon left in that can so I just kept painting. Of course, this same situation presented itself for coat number two on the walls behind and above the wood stove, so I kept going on around the corner down the short hallway that leads to the laundry room and bathroom. I completed two of the three walls. The third has some wall anchors to remove and those holes to repair.

What I didn't do is do wall surface repairs behind the wood stove and here's why: I want my repairs to dry and cure under closer-to-ideal conditions than I'll have when the wood stove is still in daily use. The heat/cool cycles are too extreme right now, so I'll wait until after wood stove season.

4. Started refinishing the cabinet to the right of the stove.

If you're following along, you might remember that I had to remove an upper cabinet to get the collapsing corner shelf out. I realized that so many things would be easier while I had it down, so instead of putting it back up, I cleaned the (decades'?) accumulation of grease off the top, removed the blue floral shelf paper, primed and painted the interior*, filled, sanded and primed the exterior of the carcass (#6).

In addition to refinishing and raising the uppers, I want to add a small crown moulding to give them a more finished look. I ordered the profile I want at my local WBC on Thursday, so will have to wait until next week when that arrives. I'm kicking myself for waiting, because it postpones reinstalling that cabinet which means we'll have all the coffee mugs on the counter for another week+. But one thing I know for sure is that finish carpentry is a very special skill set and I don't have it. Having the cabinet down on a table where I can work comfortably and without things in my way will go a long way to be doing a passable job of the miters. And passable is my goal since excellence will only be attained by luck! Certainly not consistently, either.

Even though progress was made, none of the line items could be completely crossed off. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks I can get the (1) lighting and (5-6) work on and reinstall the upper cabinet to the right of the stove, remove, work on, and reinstall the upper cabinet to the left of the stove.

The original list of the order I thought the projects will happen. Line through for complete items, italics for additions. I'll let myself do partial line thoughs for partial completion, because it's good for my morale.

1. Light fixtures
2. Remove corner shelf in order to...
3. Remove wallpaper and repair walls (& ceiling) as necessary, get temp solution for backsplash
4. Paint walls above cabinets, around wood stove, paint laundry/bath hallway.
5. Cabinet repair, move, modify
6. Refinish cabinets
7. Maybe try to do something with that terrible brick veneer wood stove surround?
8. Refinish counter tops
9. Install backsplash, probably tile
10. Replace outlets, switches, plates.

*I worked on several cabinet refinishing jobs during my decorative painting contractor days and never once did a client want the added expense of refinishing the interior of the cabinets. And maybe once did they want the inside of the doors done. I decided that I will go ahead and do the inside of the doors and the interiors of the upper cabinets, too. One of us - ahem - is the type to leave cabinet doors open, after all. And since the only financial cost is a little more material, it seemed worth the extra time and effort to go most of all the way.


  1. Holy cats! You have been busy. The kitchen is going to look amazing. I know having the kitchen kinda half torn apart isn't too fun but, you're saving so much money by doing it yourself and look at all those mad skills you have. Woo hoo!!

    1. It's really satisfying to get to use skills gained over the years and to learn some new ones, too! And as someone who has been part of teams of contractors working on remodel projects - including kitchens - for clients, I can say that the kitchen isn't really all that much more torn apart of messy than if I was hiring this out. It's just that normally each step would be done in order for the whole kitchen rather than several or all steps for little sections.


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