A kitchen: it’s all about the prep

Let’s see, where did we leave off?

Oh! Our kitchen lost 1/3 of it’s cabinetry and I’ve grown to love the weathered plaster walls and openness of it.

If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, go back to the previous post A kitchen: the end of an era.

We are in a brand new year, happy 2017! The kitchen has been in a state of demo, or paused since 2014.

I went through stages where I was totally embarrassed by the appearance of my half torn apart kitchen, but we still hosted holidays and birthdays… With people lingering in the kitchen, like always. Not once, did anyone say anything but kind words or ask great questions! It was a rare opportunity for them to see the behind-the-scenes of an old kitchen, and it became fun to show them the layers.

We had started removing sections of the flooring in stages, so the room was seriously being peeled back like an onion.

Work was beginning the last week of January. We would be living in the house, throughout. So I had to get everything out of the kitchen and set up a makeshift space that could serve as a kitchen in the meantime.

Clearing out the kitchen was the easy part! This was an excellent chance to purge things we hadn’t been using and cleaning out the pantry offered new dinner possiblities.

Now I know you’ve reached the conclusion that I’ve totally lost my mind! Living for an unknown period of time, with no kitchen.

No sink to do dishes. No stove or oven to cook meals.

Ever been camping?? If you can cook your meals and do your dishes, while you’re out in the woods; you can definitely make due in your house.

It’s all in the prep.

  • Set up a command center, where your small appliances will live and be your new friends
  • Use your crock pot!!!
  • take advantage of your grill. I used ours to boil water on top of cooking
  • Wash dishes in the bathtub
  • Meal plan in advance
  • Expect to order out a few times
  • Be flexible!

The microwave cart on the right, held dinner pantry items, the microwave, and my cookbooks.

The card table on the left; held breakfast/lunch/snack stuff, the toaster, and my crock pots. With stuff hiding under the table cloths, so it wasn’t too overwhelming.

Next up, demolition!!

A kitchen: the end of an era

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to tear apart 1/3 of your kitchen?

No? Yeah, me either.

We were humming right along. The kids were growing like weeds. We were busy with school, soccer, life.

The kitchen was holding up it’s end of the bargain, aside from the dishwasher. He gave up on us, but hand washing dishes is easier and the boys can help!

One morning in May 2016, I was packing lunches for The Garden Guy and big brother. They were going on a school field trip! A quick run down to the basement, leads to a discovery I keep to myself until after the adventure.

I heard a dripping sound, in the basement. Walked over to the corner of the room where the drain from our bathroom runs down, through the kitchen, to the basement. There’s water dripping, rather quickly down the cast iron pipe.


Our trusty plumber, assured us they could fix it, but we’d have to get the cabinets out ourselves.

Not sure where we would be going after this was fixed, we wanted to take the cabinets out in tact.

This proved, quite challenging!

The soffit was the key to the whole thing, once we got all the nails out of the soffit, the uppers came free. Getting the uppers out, took all day. While the guys were out picking up dinner, I pulled at the false wall built around the pipe and found the crack!

This cast iron drain, dates back to the 1920’s when the first bathroom was added to the house. The kitchen below, was pretty much built around the plumbing.

The feed lines for radiators, to the right, are capped in the basement and haven’t been used in… Who knows. This house has had a lot changed to her interior and this is our first chance to see ghosts of the past. Like the window, we knew used to be to the left… You can see the variation in the plaster, a shadow if you will.

From a kitchen, to a hollow corner.

The dishwasher was recycled. The countertop and the cabinets went out to the garage, to be stored. We did keep a section of the countertop, for the dish drying rack!

Let’s look at the crack, shall we??

It measures 28 inches long and it’s miraculous that only sudsy shower water was dripping from it. This is the waste pipe for the bathroom…. Yuck.

Replacement went fairly smoothly, once they cut out the pipe with a sawsall!! These cast iron drains are really thick and tough. It was a real shame to lose it. The PVC replacement went in and now you can hear everything from the bathroom… This disappoints me, but you get used to it.

Emergency plumbing is a success and now we know what the wall looks like without cabinets and I’ve had a sneak peek at the wood floors I knew were hiding underneath layers of time…

We don’t like to rush things with the house. So we waited and lived with the kitchen the way it was.

That area held all the dishes, glasses, silverware, and spare baking dishes. I moved everything to the hutch in the dining room, and boxed up the random stuff for donation.

May turned into November, and it was time to make a concrete plan. I’ve spent these months staring at the room. Waiting for it to talk to me. Give me some ideas of where to go!! I had big dreams of turning it way back in time. To look like it belonged in 1900.

Reality is, that’s not for everybody. This kitchen needs to look like it belongs in a 1905 home, but function in the 21st century way.

We reached out to none other, than Bill for the kitchen project.

His plan, changes the layout slightly, but opens the kitchen up in a big way!

Moving the fridge to the wall where the oven is. They’re the same depth, which gives the room back six inches. The breakfast bar is coming out and not returning. It created such a pinch point in the narrow room.

The heating would be radiant under floor, with us pulling off the laminate and two layers of subfloor. We really wanted a warm kitchen after so many years with an ice cold one.

A plan is made. Time to work out the details, and start demo!

Coming in January 2017

A kitchen: the beginning of the end

So often, you look at a house and one of the most important spaces that should meet your needs, is the kitchen.

Enough storage? Ample workspace? Does it flow well?

For me; I needed storage and an oven.

I am a simple girl. Which was good because our kitchen needed some love that we just did not have funds for.

Winters were freezing in here! You can see the radiators ran under the cabinets, along the bottoms… The heat went into the cabinets, not the kitchen. Every time I opened the spice cabinet (which has the most fun surprise!), I would be slapped with a cold wind!

We found out days after moving in, why the wood was screwed into the ceiling. There was a leak in connector to the feed for the shower above, which rained on me while I did dishes and The Garden Guy was in the shower! It was a quick fix, but the ceiling remained in its terrible appearance until 2017!

Before we get to that though, we need to talk about contentment.

Being able to find joy, in the simplicity of the day to day. Having a fancy kitchen, would have been dreamy! But we had to save and plan. A kitchen reno was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime thing, so we had to get it just right.

In the meantime, you just deal. You give thanks for having appliances that work, a way to cook meals for your family, and ignore the rest. It takes practice and patience, but it is so worth it.

Ok, fast forward to the fall of 2014. The sweet little one we moved in with, is a big brother times two! The youngest came along in June and I’m cleaning the double oven in preparation for Thanksgiving. My absolute favorite holiday! I put my 24 inch double wall oven to the test, cooking a feast to feed an army. It is my love language.

My right hand starts to tingle when I lift the heating element to run the sponge under it… Then my left hand feels heat. The oven is off! But I’m feeling electric current. Not good. Upon further investigation, the heating element has burned a hole through the bottom of them upper oven. We immediately shut it off at the panel. After a little research we knew we needed to get the serial number to the current oven which was hidden behind a wooden panel built over the oven. Carefully we wiggled the oven out, got what we needed and started to slide it back into place….. Crack! The tempered glass of the lower oven door, shatters.

What’s a girl to do? Well, she cleans it all up and uses white duck tape on a trash bag to keep the five month old away from the hole.

I cooked Thanksgiving in crock pots, and left the research on a new oven to the guy who’s good at finding a deal; my husband.

He snags a great deal on a 36 inch double wall oven, from KitchenAid on a black Friday deal.

Being in the holiday season, finding someone who could squeeze in a cabinet build was hard!

But we found Bill. He is the kindest, hardworking man, I’ve known in a long time. Willing to drive an hour to us, he works out a cabinet sketch for us that was the beginning of our new kitchen. The plan was to build a new kitchen around that oven cabinet.

He was able to get the new one built and brought over right before New Year’s Eve.

Seeing the avocado green on the wall behind the oven, was actually a fun discovery!

New oven, new cabinet, and the kitchen was back up and running….. Until a fateful day in May of 2016.

The kitchen is slowly, yet rapidly, falling apart. Stay tuned!

Paint or bust

Congratulations! You’ve bought yourself an old house. Your first house. Now what?

The first thing I knew for sure, the wallpaper on the first floor had to go. Before you go getting mad at me, hear me out!

Why we took down the wallpaper:

  • Three different color patterns in the same space was making me dizzy
  • it was peeling
  • Because it was dark and smelled like smoke

We wanted to get the social spaces done before the big furniture arrived, so it was less to move twice. Having a two week window was going to be fantastic! How hard could it possibly be??

First lesson in old home ownership: projects rarely go by quickly or easily.

The plan was to have some family and friends over for a little wallpaper removal party!! Paid in food, beverage, and a first look at the house. A great time was had by all, especially the house. She made it very clear, this paper was NOT coming off without a fight.

Multiple trips to the hardware store 30 minutes away, left us with a working solution of score, soak with remover, steam, and scrape.

This is a view opposite from the wall we scraped above. This section of the space had a lighter wallpaper, but the same border. The wall out of sight, to the left, was the third wallpaper variation.

It was all removed, except the heating pipes! They stayed wrapped for conversation purposes.

After twelve years, I’m starting to feel a new color is coming for downstairs. Whatever we choose will be another timeless color we can enjoy for a long time.

Where it all began

January of 2009. Two crazy kids and their almost one year old are waiting for word on the house they’ve loved for months now.

Living out of boxes, since November is old. We’ve been on the closing merry-go-round so long, we aren’t sure if excited is on our radar. But we just keep holding out hope that our realtor can get it all worked out.

Closing day arrives and goes exactly how you think it shouldn’t. I won’t divulge, let’s just say I got up and left with the baby to spare him from seeing it!

But here we are! She’s ours.

Inside feels so strange empty, not cold, just void. But as soon as I sat down on the floor with C, it was home.