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Before and (sorta) After: The Kitchen.

September 20, 2007 | Category: This Old House

OK, as much as this makes me squinge.- I'm always so nervous to post pictures of our home because, well, after more than 6 years of living in a house that has been under renovation (yes, there has ALWAYS been something in construction) I'm terrified that people will say - 'Oh, THAT'S how you LIVE?' or something like that. (Especially since we do about 90% of the work ourselves.) So, please be gentle. Um, please.



This is the kitchen the day we moved in, February 2001. The woman who was moving out was mid-divorce with 2 teen-aged boys. It was a heartbreaking situation, and I have long respected her for how she got this old, stained, warped house absolutely scrubbed clean.

Having lived with that yellow linoleum floor for 6 years - I can tell you that it was never this clean again.



This is how it looked after we were settled in. It is basically a hallway from the front of the house to the back door. The cabinets had all been made by hand in the 40's (about 15 years after the house was built). Sometime in the late 70's, one of the owners had a counter top made out of pressboard and a kind of thick tinfoil application.

Of course, by the time we moved in all the appliances had changed over the years so nothing really fit where it was.

Notice that CD bought a dishwasher and a free-standing cabinet for it, which he installed in the space where the previous owners had had room for a tiny table.



By 2003, we'd bought a new fridge and a new stove - neither of which "fit" where the old ones had been. We also upgraded the window to something that, you know, opened.

CD went ahead swapped the refrigerator and stove spaces, so now the fridge was at the back. This made it easier for him to run the piping for the in-door water and ice dispensers, too.

(That's the beloved Elia, by the way.)

That was how the kitchen looked for the next 4 years. Cluttered, mismatched, never feeling clean, and never enough space to do anything practically.



The demo of the real part of the kitchen began in June, 2007. Our neighbors to the side, who we would pick up and move with us if we could, offered to help.

With a saws-all, a big ol dumpster in the driveway (they built a chute from the window to the dumpster), crowbars, and sheer force of will they completely ripped the place apart in 2 short afternoons.



It took me much longer to pack it all up than it did for them to break it all down.



What was underneath was... disturbing. This is an old (1920's) stucco house built before the introduction of vapor barriers and proper ventilation.

We found just acres of black mold and dust.

After the demo, we went in and cleaned (wearing masks and gloves). Gallons of bleach. Replacing boards where we could, and then painting the whole thing with a special paint that seals away allergens.

That said, CD couldn't breathe properly for weeks.



The first part that was done was the left-side of the kitchen. While we were waiting for delivery of the cabinets, we removed the 80's flowered wallpaper, and painted (oi! choosing neutral paints was actually hard). Once we laid down the new floor along the hallway, this looked good.



The upper cabinets went in first. With the two friends helping, CD got the (Maple, tall) cabinets mostly up in about a day.

The lower cabinets took the better part of 4 weekends. First, because the floor had to be laid and leveled. Then because the plumbing and electrical inspections both had to be done twice to correct some faults the house had and finally because that 3-drawer cabinet was on back-order.

We kept the layout basically the same, just much more streamlined. After all these years, we'd realized that this was the most efficient use of the space.



There's still a lot to be done - the faucet is halfway in, to be finished tonight. The walls are being finished by a handyman who will be here this weekend. CD will put the doors back on, and do the trim work, as well.

Those soffits are gone, and everything painted more neutral colors. That makes it feel so much bigger already.

So that's where we are now. A couple of weeks from being ready to put it on the market (only uh...4 months behind schedule?). I'll post more pictures after the weekend....

(See link 'continued' for a couple more random pictures.)

Dumb Sara ran through a pricker bush and ended up having to be shaved BALD!

This is what she looked like BEFORE. (Yes, that's our fading old dame, Maggie, in Bear's lap - shedding very hard at the folded laundry.)

Bear's hives during his illness in late 2005. The one diagnosed as an unknown virus, but later suspected to be severe allergies to mold/dust.

No guilt there. Nope.

(He was hermetically sealed away with his uber-expensive air cleaners during the reno.)

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Kitchen looks great! I can't wait to see it in person.

Sara actually looks good either fluffy or bald. I know those pricker bushes are aweful...there's one somewhere in my garden and Miles keeps finding it. I finally broke down and bought a really expensive mat cutting brush to use on him but sometimes all you can do is shave and start over.

That mold is scary stuff. We are afraid of what we'll find when we finally pull down the plastic shower stall in the bathroom. I'm sure it won't be pretty. Cleaning and sealing it with that paint will be healthier for all of you.

Poor Bear! I'm glad he's doing better with the allergies. I can so relate to what you guys have been dealing with.

I have been keeping up with reading your blog, I just don't always comment these days. : )

Posted by: laura on September 27, 2007 08:01 PM

Good work! Can you tell me: what is this paint that seals away allergens?

Posted by: trendoffice on September 24, 2007 07:59 AM

Wow, Elizabeth, y'all have gotten a lot done! It looks great! And I'm impressed that you've done it all yourselves. We're really great at demolition, but have hired other folks to do much of the putting things back together. We've lived in a house that's always part construction site for 8 years now. One day we will have it finished... and then it will be time to start over again on something!

Posted by: Kimberly on September 23, 2007 01:04 AM

Wow, it looks great! You have done a tremendous amount of work, tremendously!

Posted by: Janie on September 21, 2007 06:09 PM

The kitchen is looking awesome!

Your cabinets are beautiful and I think we have the same fridge! Not that having the same fridge would be all that special ... but it's late and I need to belong, dammit. ;)

Poor Bear, Maggie and Sara - although I have to say that Sara's cut is very very slimming. ;)

Thank god Bear is all better. I love that Maggie has a nice lap to curl up on - our cats just tolerate our kids letting them pet them backwards ... never climbing up to cuddle on their laps.

Posted by: Michele on September 20, 2007 10:47 PM

Wow--looks great! It always amazes me in these old houses that the stove and fridge never really "fit" anywhere. It's almost as if they were afterthoughts. Like they finished the kitchen and then said, "Oh those? Hmmm . . . where should we put them? I know--let's just put them side-by-side on this empty wall."

Posted by: Sharkey on September 20, 2007 10:20 AM

Looking great!
We went through all that with the old farmhouse we lived in for...oh... eons. It's so much work, but well worth it afterwards.

Love the dog!

Poor little guy. We had kids with allergies to practically everything on the farm, but in their case it showed up as asthma, not hives. Guilt is a wonderful thing, huh? Yeah. Not so much.

Posted by: sue on September 20, 2007 10:14 AM

Starting to look pretty fabulous! Congratulations!

Posted by: rp on September 20, 2007 09:35 AM