It is (mostly) done

After umpteen years bumping into each other and generally loathing our kitchen, we finally did something about it.

The primary design goal was to make the room easier for two people to cook in by replacing the concave, n-faced polyhedron with a “work triangle.”  Specific problems we’re addressing:

  • Because the dishwasher is wedged in the corner, its door blocks access to the cabinets and gadget drawers. Thus, emptying becomes a two-step process — put stuff on the counter, close the door and put it away. Solution: move the dishwasher to the left of the sink.
  • Traffic is constrained by the huge island. The island’s size is dictated by the Jenn-Air cooktop that I’ve hated since, like, forever. (First action upon moving in was to replace the grill with two more burners.) The built-in oven and (nonfunctioning) microwave are very close to the pocket door, making it feel more cramped. Replace all of this with a free-standing range and overhung microwave.  Ventilate it.
  • With no need for the Jenn-Air, we can reduce the size of the island to provide more room to walk around.  The top becomes an unencumbered preparation surface — yay, counterspace! The inside has dish drawers that can be loaded directly from the dishwasher.
  • The refrigerator (not shown in the photo) is wedged in the corner by the pocket door.  There’s not much space anyway, but when its doors are opened, you can’t get out of the kitchen. Swap its location with the pantry. Since the fridge is 18 years-old, replace it with a counter-depth (doesn’t stick out as much), split-door model.    Add slide-out shelves in the pantry.
  • Replace the big, fugly fluorescent light and add a couple of extra can lights. Also put in three-way switches.
  • The small tile counter-tops require more maintenance than we are willing to perform.  Replace them with Formica.

Click any of these to enbiggen.

Day 1: Cabinets, island, and appliances removed. This was the most startling change. They left the sink connected so we could wash dishes.

Day 2: Electrical work starting. What seemed like minor work (“add a couple of lights”) was made more extensive by 25 years of additional building codes to catch up on.  If this were 10 years ago, I’d be running Ethernet cable while the walls are open.  However, the house has had wireless.

Day 3: Some patching of drywall. The new regs require an outlet ever 28 inches or so along the wall. Despite having outlets at each side, they were obligated to run up to two more, but the inspector waived the second one as it was only 8″ from the wall.

Day 4: With the electrical inspection done, they did more drywall plus texturing of the ceiling.

Day 5: Because we removed the pantry walls, there were holes left in the hardwoods.

These gaps were fixed by interleaving in new boards.  I’m not sure I would have considered hardwoods under the cabinets necessary, but he did a nice job.  The floors will later be sanded and refinished.  (We’d debated deferring this part until budget recovers, but since it’s all apart anyway…)

Day 6: The first of the cabinet installation. Note that they’ve put the old sink in the new cabinet for us to continue doing dishes. The old window was removed and replaced – I hadn’t appreciated just how clouded up the old window was until I was standing in front of the brand-spanking new one.

Day 7: The vertical post is all that holds up the ceiling.

Janet visualizes knobs on the cabinets.


Ahoy, an island! – two feet narrower, JennAir-free, but with more preparation surface, and we can walk around it!

Day 8: Counter underlayment! We lose our temporary sink for several days while they install plywood and Formica. Yes, Formica. We couldn’t get that enthused about the additional maintenance required of granite tile.

Day 9-12: Time for hardwood sanding!  I lucked out that this occurred during Cycle Oregon 2010.  While I was camping in a tent, the rest of the family camped at Residence Inn.

Day 18: Skipping ahead a lot because I wasn’t here and the changes are difficult to see – hardwoods were sanded, refinished, and re-refinished.  Lights were installed.  Formica was formicified.  It’s basically moved in, though things like painting, edges (tile, counter, baseboards), curtains and replacing vertical blinds still need to be done.  It feels much more workable.

3 thoughts on “It is (mostly) done”

  1. Wow, it’s just beautiful! Congratulations! Beyond the enjoyment of using the wonderful new kitchen, I’m sure you’re also savoring the enjoyment of having solved a puzzle and fixed all of those annoying drawbacks of the original layout. Awesome!

  2. Thank you for bucking the granite countertop juggernaut. Can’t tell you how many times we were “clucked” at by R.E. agents for not having them. I’ll hold on to the house now until granite proves to cause hair loss, at which point I’ll be sitting pretty.

  3. I am suitably impressed. It looks like the kind of kitchen that always smells good and feels homey. And I’m with @John on this: granite…so not worth the price.

    I’ve always wondered about the ‘fridge spanning cabinets, though. Does the appliance get enough ventilation?

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