Loose Ends

Loose Ends

the creative impulse gone awry

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Kitchen Continues

I have to apologize for my silence, for reasons I'll get into, I'm sure, things have been stressful recently.  But we did actually build a kitchen and I'm realizing now how much I'm in love with it. 

When last we spoke I just showed you a blurry picture of my gutted kitchen.  One thing that we were surprised about - I'm not sure why we end up having such communication issues with the contractor folks, is it me?  anyway we thought that they were going to leave the weird ugly linoleum and subfloor since we weren't having them refinish the floor, but they took it!  So we ended up with a floor that had 60 year old linoleum (?) tiles on it, disintegrating.  So we ended up scraping them all off - which was the hardest most terrible work.  We were sore and exhausted and it still took 3 days of working basically non-stop to get the floor down to bare wood.  Are there easier ways than just scraping and washing?  I'm sure.  Are there tools we could have rented that would have made it easier?  Probably!  But, we just elbow greased the whole thing.

While we were getting the floor scraped up and cleaned up the crew was making us some updated electrical outlets, and walls, walls!!!!

Installing the cabinets was actually the easiest part.  When we purchased the cabinets for the peninsula we basically got the instructions that came in the box with each cabinet.  Which is to say, the classic Ikea instructions that are hardly useful.  When we purchased the rest of the cabinets we got all of these glossy posters with step-by-step instructions fully illustrated.  This, frankly, would have been exceedingly useful when I was installing the damn peninsula, but it worked out okay, so bygones.  The most exciting part was realizing just how much our kitchen floor sloped to the center of the house.  Honestly, the counter is an inch farther from the floor on the left than on the right - but the counters are level! 

I started with the corner by the stove - the instructions told me to start in a corner, how nice of them!  It was really straight forward, and putting in the base cabinets really made it start to look like a kitchen. Before we did all of the cabinets though, I thought I would leave a little gift for the next renovators and let the girls go hog wild with some paint on the walls behind the cabinets.

I was concerned with how I was going to fit the base cabinet for the sink over the water pipes... they come up through the floor - not through the wall.  Yay, 1950s technology (which, don't get me wrong, this house is SOLID, it just needs updates.  Don't be mad at me house, you really were built with the best technology of the time!  smooch!  I must be really falling in love with this house finally since I'm having imaginary conversations with it...) 

In the end I just used the jig saw to cut a rectangular hole in the bottom of the base cabinet.  This, with just the right amount of wiggling and a very strong assistant, let us slide the thing on top of the pipes.  Not too shabby.  When that was installed I started working on the other corner - with the space next to the sink cabinet reserved for the dishwasher...

Once we got all of these in, it was time to get counters in so I could get my sink back.  I had been washing dishes in a large plastic storage container and, frankly, that gets old. One of the many decisions we made to economize on our kitchen was to get the cheapest countertops that we could - since they are relatively straightforward to replace when we have a larger budget for such things.  So we got the boring laminate counters from Ikea, gray on one side, white on the other.  Cheap enough that if we screwed them up, we could replace them, but attractive enough that I don't hate them.

There was a bit of drama with cutting them to size.  I had specifically asked at the Home Depot for a new blade for my circular saw that would make cutting these things super easy.  I installed the blade, and couldn't cut the counter tops.  We pushed, we smoked, the countertop was catching on fire from the friction, and it just wasn't cutting.  I thought, hm, maybe I installed the saw blade in reverse?  It was the only thing I could think of to explain why the heck the thing wasn't cutting.  So I went to change the blade - only I hadn't waited long enough and burned the tip of my finger on the hot hot hot, so stinkin' hot circular saw blade.  ugh.  I had to ice my finger for hours, hours, I tell you.  I had an ENORMOUS blister on the tip of my ring finger on my right hand.  Which basically put me out of commission and into teacher mode as I got Josh up to speed on working the power tools and doing the things that I usually do during home projects.

Fortunately, I married the most awesome guy in the world and he just stepped up and took my place, handled all of my frustration at my uselessness and cut our counter tops.  Was it pretty?  no, not even slightly.  The blade was so weird that it was impossible to cut, so we were cutting them half way and finishing with a hand saw.  (Later in the project for the other pieces of counter top I switched to my old circular saw blade and it was, once again, easy to cut.  We must have just gotten a bad blade, grumble, grumble.)  We were upset, thinking that we were going to need to get a new piece of counter - because the seam was intended to be in the center of our sink and it being wonky would not do... but I had the (genius) idea of turning around both sides and using the factory edges to meet in the middle of the sink, leaving the wonky edges at the ends by the wall where we could caulk up any differences.
We traced the sink outline (re-using our sink, to economize again!) and cut a hole with the jig saw and voila!  After that we had some serious screwing, lining up, screwing some more, and caulking, but having counters really made it seem more like a kitchen...

Once we got the sink into the hole, the next thing was plumbing it... I had never done such a large job before.  I'm used to replacing things that already exist - toilets, sinks, faucets, you know.  But for this I had to take a hole in the floor and two pipes and make it work.  So exciting!  I had spoken extensively with the guys at Ace Hardware.  I brought in the piece of old plumbing that I was trying to replace.  I got all of the pieces, plus extras.  I got a little explanation of how the pvc cement works.  I lined it up, and marked everything and (after several trips back to the home depot and the ace hardware when my dry fit showed problems) boom!  Water! I could do dishes!!!

That part of the project took roughly a week.  The rest was just putting on the cabinet doors, putting together the drawers and installing them, installing the dishwasher (which I had done before so was not a huge deal for me.)  Smaller things that I could do a piece at a time, in the evenings.  The kitchen was functional again, and for that I was thrilled.  We still had to deal with the floor, and painting, and oh dear, there is STILL lots to do to "finish" it - including phase 3 and possible more.  But I could cook dinner for the hoards, and that was the most important part.

A few days later the guys came back in to re-frame the casement window (which is just something I did NOT want to do)  I have to say they were impressed with my work - as was I.  I was working on making dinner, and a pie, talking about how fun the plumbing was and the guy says, "Who says women can't do anything?"  To which I replied, "Obviously not me."  I mean, I'm sure he can plumb a sink, but I can also make a fucking pie, so obviously I win. I still look around and can't believe I took a shell of a room and turned it into this: (photos I took about two weeks after, we have done even more since then, which I will talk about soon)

No comments: