Thursday, June 27, 2013

Kitchen Reno - Wall to Wall

Always busy around here - in addition to this kitchen renovation, our summer is full of trips to the pool, dances in the sprinkler, a bit of veggie gardening, and playing with friends.  Updates have been sporadic, but we ARE making progress!

This weekend was all about a little more wiring and a little more drywall.  It's not all up, but the room has about 90% of the studs covered!  It's starting to look and feel like a real room.  Let's take a look!

 OK so what you may notice is that this isn't ALL drywall!  Yeah, what's that all about?  Cabinet support.  For areas of the wall that will be holding up a wall cabinet, we decided to go with 1/2 " plywood instead of drywall.  Screws will hold well in there (in case we can't hit a stud) and because the "studs" on the exterior walls are ripped down 2x4s the plywood will add stability and strength.  It's a good thing.

What if you SEE it!??!?  You won't.  Our plan is to tile the back splash from the counter to the cabinets so even if a smidge of plywood is visible under the cabinet (and Jason assures me that it won't be visible), it would be covered with some pretty tile later.  

Also, note those little white wires poking out between the drywall & the plywood?  Those are the wires for the under cabinet lighting and will be connected to the light switch on the other side of the room.


Question for readers - what's the longest DIY project you guys have ever undertaken?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Kitchen Reno - What's Not to Like?

So what's not to like about a DIY Kitchen renovation?


The timeline.  It will take longer than you think.  This is always true.

Washing dishes in the bathroom sink.  It's small and annoying.

Not having a dining room.  It's become a kitchen.

Limited menus.  It's amazing how much I depend on counter space and small appliances to prep food.  We've been living on junk (and it shows).

The mess.  I have cleaned my basement 2-3 times now and it needs it again. 

Paper plates.  I am not a fan of paper plates - I don't mind them occasionally, but I hate eating all my meals off of them.  And it feels wasteful and expensive.


I only wish the end were in sight.  We still have a ton of work to do, but progress IS happening.  Just slowly.


Kitchen Reno - It's Electric!

Boogie woogie woogie!
I am probably dating myself when I say that the Electric Slide was a staple of middle school dances when I was a kid.  
So on to the latest update on our kitchen renovation.  Following the super exciting and picturesque phase that is framing, comes the equally exciting and picturesque phase that is wiring.  Yeah, wires.  So fun. 
I gotta say, I keep coming up with timelines in my head that have absolutely nothing to do with how long items will actually take.  I'm not trying to set my expectations too high, it's really just that without really knowing what a particular task entails it's hard to have an accurate idea of how long something will take.  When it was time to do wiring, I thought, "how long could this take?  A few hours??"  HA!  I'm learning more and more about the process and how long to budget for time.  
Poor Jason spent the better part of 2 days running up and down the basement stairs, drilling holes through the framing, stapling wires, and even drilling out parts of the concrete block to make room for the boxes.  At this point, I'd say that the wiring is nearly done - a few more outlets and then running the wires for the under cabinet lights.

Here we are:

And Jason's also started putting up the rigid foam insulation!  It's not a huge R-value (being only 1/2 inch thick) but every bit helps!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Blast from the Past - Shed Dormer Construction

So with kitchen stuff being the only thing going on in the real world, I thought it would be a good time to take a peek at some of the stuff around here that happened in the years before the blog.

Today we're revisiting probably the BIGGEST and most ambitious project we did.  And it's one of the first, but it's the precursor to everything on the 2nd floor of the house.  We added a big shed dormer on the back of the house.

Our home is a brick Cape Cod style house, which means that there is a full first floor, but the 2nd floor is contained within the roof line.  The front of the house has cute little dormers but the back of the house had no windows.  The bedrooms upstairs also sported these little knee walls and slanted ceilings.  It's a cozy feel, but we wanted more space.

Our shed dormer basically changed the angle of the back side of the roof all the way across the back of the house.  We wanted to move the knee wall back to the back of the house to increase square footage in the upstairs bedrooms.  Let me see if I can draw you guys a pic...

See how much more space there is in that enclosed shape?  So that's what we did.  And by "we" I mean Jason & his brother.

Now to put a time-frame around this, we closed on the house in early January 2007 and this project was "done" (meaning that the exterior of the house was weatherproof LOL) before we moved in at the end of March.  So that means that Jason & his brother worked on this - tearing off the roof, cutting holes in the walls, framing, sheathing, siding, etc.  in FEBRUARY.  And let me say that it was wicked cold.  It snowed inside the house.  I don't have any pics of this process that I can find because I was at our apartment with a wee baby all cozy and warm.

Anyway, here's a pic from the following spring with everything tidied up outside:

And here's a look at a few interior angles - just to show how much more square footage was added.  If you look at the bedroom shot, you can see the corner of the doorway in each pic to see how much more space there is now.

So there it is - the shed dormer.  Now that we see how we changed the profile of the house we can now take a look at the bathroom and upstairs bedrooms in future "Blast From the Past" posts!!

Have a great weekend!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Kitchen Reno - We've Been Framed!

So we've been living with a gutted kitchen for a while and it's kinda sucky, but there's a few things that have to be done before we can really go nuts with drywall and flooring and all that.  One of the big things is framing.

For most folks, gutting a room means taking it "down to studs" and that's pretty much true for us also.  However, our house isn't all stud construction.  The exterior walls are concrete block and brick with skinny furring strips and when we removed the walls (plaster & backer board) we found that the furring strips were in rough shape.  The wood on the wall by the back door was pretty much rotted out and/or eaten by termites.  Also the furring strips are only 1/2" thick which left pretty much no room for any kind of insulation.  Wouldn't it be nice to have some insulation?  Yeah, it would.  And so we took down all the existing furring strips.


Before putting up any drywall (or doing any wiring on the exterior walls) Jason essentially had to "reframe" them all.  In order to avoid losing any width to the kitchen, Jason built sections of the wall with ripped down 2x4s so that the walls are 1.75" deep = the width of half a 2x4.  This will give us enough room for a bit of rigid foam insulation as well as some room for wires (outlets & under cabinet lighting).

This process seemed to be pretty slow, but taking the time to ensure this wall is plumb, level, straight and perfect will hopefully make the cabinet installation a smooth process.  
After putting up the wall, Jason used shims and masonry nails to secure it to the wall.  A regular 2x4 wall won't have the same sort of wiggliness that these cut-down pieces of wood have, but now that it's done nothing is moving.  The wall looks straight, feels solid and will be a good base for cabinets once we're ready.

Anyway, it's DONE!  One more item on our to-do list has been ticked off and we're one tiny step closer to having our kitchen back.

Here it is all ready for wiring & drywall!

So excited that things are moving forward!



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