Monday, March 25, 2013

Kitchen Demo

It's been another whirlwind weekend for us.  On Friday night we had a mostly-functional but very ugly kitchen.
We packed everything up and removed the countertops and cabinets.  I pre-sold the cabinets on Craigslist so we only had to store them for a day until the buyer could pick them up.  After ripping things apart we could see how very gross this kitchen really was.  There was a lot of mold growing under the kitchen backsplash.
And the walls had been painted a shade of pink that not even Barbie could love.

We had long suspected that the original kitchen had been on the left side of the space and the dining room had been on the right with a wall separating them.  Finding the original flooring proved our hypothesis correct.
 A major remodel in the late 70's or early 80's swapped the kitchen and dining room. This wasn't a great plan but wasn't half as bad as some of their other choices like hiding two junction boxes inside a wall or leaving wires spliced together without a junction box or even wire nuts.
But the biggest surprise was the old window.  Whoever did the 70's remodel boarded up the old window and installed a cheap window in a different location without moving the header.  The header only reaches halfway across the window!  The wall had sagged 1/2" but we were fortunate it did not cause more damage.
The header issue made the wall much more complicated than originally thought.  We spent several hours changing the framing and jacking up the wall before installing our patio door.  The header is now supported by double kings and double trimmers.
For the first time in six months we can go to the back yard or garage without having to go through the front door and around the house.  And the awkwardly placed window on the back of the house is gone.
 The patio doors look much more balance on the back of the house.  Eventually all the debris and wheelbarrows will be replaced by a deck and steps down to the existing patio.
I still have to remove the kitchen closet and tear down some drywall but we are almost finished with demo.  But I do have a little message for the people who did the kitchen remodel:  We used to give you the benefit of a doubt and attributed your mistakes to inexperience.  The header has made it abundantly clear that you just do shoddy work and have no business holding a hammer.  People like you give DIYer's a bad reputation.

On a cheerier note I would like to thank Joey, a total stranger who just came over to buy our old dishwasher and ended up helping up lift the new patio door into place.  You totally made our day!

Getting Ready For The Next Big Thing

Even while we were working on finishing the laundry rooms we are gathering the last of the materials for the another big project : the kitchen. It's hard to get a good feel for our kitchen/dining room without seeing it in person. However, I'll do my best to let you see what we are planning. When we bought the house the kitchen/dining room was accessed from the living room through this arch.
The doorway between the living and dining room was enlarged to 9' and we added stairs to the basement. You can see that the new stairs took up most of the narrow dining room space. Our dining room is now only 3' wide.The kitchen has not changed much since moving in.
We bought a fridge and stove but their pretty stainless steel finish doesn't make up for the many, many deficiencies in the kitchen.
Even if we ignored the lack of dining space the kitchen is deeply flawed. The cabinet bases are maple but someone decided they would look better with 1/8" oak veneer glued over the faces. They also replaced the doors and drawer fronts with plywood so we cannot restore the original maple cabinets. The cheap white Formica counters are chipped and always look dirty.
The bedroom behind the kitchen did not have working outlets so we had to drill a hole in the wall to power the modem and wireless router.
The new fridge sticks out into the room because it does not fit under the upper cabinet.
Plus we have a coat closet in the kitchen. The vent pipe for the old water heater and boiler were boxed in at the end of the closet and the electrical panel is in a linen closet at the other end. The whole setup is weird and wastes a lot of space.
I have been enjoying having so many cabinets and a large counter space to work with but it's time to get rid of the current kitchen and start work on something much more practical. As you can see we will lose defined kitchen and dining areas but the new layout will be much roomier and allow access to the basement as well.
One of the features I like best about the new kitchen is the new doorway out the back of the house. We have a large patio out back that can only be accessed by going out the side door and around the house. The patio doors will replace the window over the sink.
We spent the weekend ripping out most of the kitchen.  I still have more demo to do but I should have some pictures soon.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Laundry Room Before & After

For someone who hates doing laundry I am strangely excited to have a finished laundry room.  It is gratifying to see that all this work has paid off.  The laundry room is currently nicer than our kitchen.  But I needn't brag.  I'll let the photos speak for themselves.

Before - The laundry area was part of the kitchen/dining area
Before - The future laundry room
 In Process - We framed in a new laundry room in the basement and used it like that...for over a year.
After - It's difficult to get a good picture without a wide angle lens

Before - Control wall for radiant heat system
 After - The controls are hidden behind louvered doors.  Built in cabinets provide ample storage underneath.
The new doors can be opened to allow access to parts of the heat system or lifted off their tracks if complete access is necessary.
 Before - Space for a washer and dryer, but no work area
 After - Added storage cubbies, folding counter and laundry sink.
 We have a 20" wide space next to the washing machine.  Someday we will put in shelves to store laundry baskets but since this will be my temporary kitchen I am planning to put our mini-fridge there.
 This is the access panel for the crawl space.  We used a piece of PVC panel intended for decorative outdoor lattice and trimmed it with oak.  Dark fabric behind the screen will block the view of the crawl space but still allows ventilation.
We ran the supply and drain hoses for the washing machine through the sink.
Despite the amount of cabinetry in the laundry room it really was not an expensive project.  We spent a little under $1000 on the whole room including the washer and dryer.  I'm sure that a nice laundry area is not nearly as important to buyers as a nice kitchen or master bath, but maybe having all of these things finished will appeal to the future lady of the house.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Make Over Cabinets on the Cheap

We don't have a huge budget for the laundry room.  There are bigger and better projects demanding our money.  To save money I made over old cabinets and was able to get a room full of custom cabinetry for under $100.

 It's pretty rare for my local store to have any sort of cabinetry so I was surprised to find this ugly sink base cabinet for $20.
The laundry room only has space for a 24" cabinet; this one is 36" wide. The doors and drawer fronts are solid maple so I removed them and set them aside for future use.  This left the face frame of the cabinet.
 Then I cut the horizontal portions of the face frame and attached the shortened pieces to the side of the cabinet.  This created a new, smaller face frame with only one door opening.  I also built up the base of the cabinet so it would be 1" taller than the washer and dryer.  I found an old scrap of plywood to cover the toe-kick area.  Since it's getting painted the markings don't matter. 
Once the sink base cabinet was built I turned my attention to the doors.  I have cabinets that were removed from the old laundry area and kitchen that I wanted to use in the laundry room.  But the doors were just oak-veneer plywood.
I like shaker cabinets and they are quite easy to fake, especially if you recently installed wooden blinds.  My wooden blinds were 3' longer than my windows so I had a lot of extra slats left over.  I cut them to length then attached them to the door with glue and my brad nailer.
After the glue was dry I sanded the slats to make sure the paint would bond well.
Each door was then puttied and sanded again to look seamless before receiving a coat of primer.
Each cabinet received two coats of paint and had to be laid flat to flat to keep the paint from running.  I used Cabinet Coat paint which make the cabinets look like they have a factory finish instead of being painted after the fact.  After everything was dry I installed the new hinges and hung the cabinet doors.
Sink Base Cabinet

Heat System Wall

$40 - Louvered doors from restore
$20 -Sink Base
$10 - Paint (used less than a quart, the rest will be used upstairs)
$10 - Spray Primer
$8 - Nickel hinges
$4 - Door pulls
$3 - Track for bypass doors

Total cost $95

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Built-In Cabinet Wall

Yesterday I posted pictures of the new counter and sink in the laundry room.  Today I have an update about the opposite wall.  We want to cover the controls for the radiant heat but there is a lot of usable space at the bottom of the wall that I don't want to waste. We started by framing out the opening.  The wall is currently a little over 100" wide but my cabinets and doors are only 96".  This blocking will fill that dead space and give me something to anchor my face frame to.
Then it was time for the storage cabinets.  I had two 30" cabinets that were above the old laundry area.  I also ripped out a 36" cabinet from the kitchen to complete the space.  These cabinets are beautiful maple, but some idiot glued an oak veneer to the maple frames and replaced the maple doors with plywood.

I removed the oak veneer and sanded down the frames to get rid of the glue.  The maple is so beautiful that I hate to paint over it.  I have no problem painting pine and I can cover oak without too much guilt, but I love maple.  We slid the cabinets into their space then screwed them to the blocking and to each other.
We built a top for the cabinets out of sanded plywood and hung the tracks for the doors.  The hot water running through all these valves puts off enough heat to keep the laundry room a comfortable temperature.  To prevent the heat from being trapped in the cabinet we used louvered doors instead of solid doors.  Luke and I found these old closet doors at Restore and cut them down to fit our opening.

The bypass doors can be moved to access parts of the system or can be lifted out to expose the whole wall if necessary.  Once everything was cut and adjusted I removed  the doors for painting.  More on that later.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Laundry Counters

This week we built something that Luke really didn't want to build: the laundry room counters.  I know it's just a laundry room but I really wanted butcher block counters.  I love they way they look with white cabinets and this room is going to have plenty of white cabinetry going on.  But butcher block was out of our price range.  Luke wanted to buy a 10' preformed laminate countertop and just trim it to fit.  
There was nothing wrong with the laminate, it just wasn't what I wanted.  But Luke was swayed by the fact that we would save $100 by making our own counters instead of the laminate.  We started with this pile of oak flooring leftover from the back two bedrooms.  
 Because it has a beveled edge it does not match the original oak floors so I can't use it in our kitchen remodel.  But there's no reason to let it go to waste. We ran it all through the planer then glued and clamped all the pieces into one large board.  Luke spent hours sanding it down until everything was smooth (he would love to have a big planer than could handle a 24" board.

While he was out of town I stained it with a walnut finish

And sealed it.  When Luke got back for the weekend we finally installed the sink base cabinet and set the counter in place. 
 After the sink was installed we could finally move the washer and dryer back in.  Hurray for clean clothes!