Kitchen Remodel – Part 2 – Demolition!

With about 3 weeks to go before everything was going to be installed, we finally started tearing out the kitchen. While we probably could have done everything in a day or two, we had to do all the work after we got off work, and it’s actually much harder than you think. It was a lot of fun tearing things out, but also very tiring.

Over the course of a week or so, we did one of these a night.

Once of the last things we did was remove the sink and the cabinets around it. We had one of the plumbers come out a week before demo to let us know how to unhook everything. But when I started doing what he said, I realized we were going to have a few problems. Mainly, the knob on the water supply line was somewhat broken, and would not shut off. Luckily another plumber from the same company came out and took care of it for us. I started to take apart the rest of the sink, but decided to wait until later to actual remove the drain.

The week before things were to be installed, the guy in charge of installations came out to measure everything, make any final notes, and make sure things were good to go. While he was here, he wanted to help us remove the rest of the sink so he could check it all out. We cut the drain line, removed the rest of the counters and cabinets, and then noticed a pretty big problem.

We had years of water damage underneath it all.

Under our cabinets there was a bit of particle board used above the subfloor, below the actual ‘flooring’. This has swollen over an inch in some areas, and was going to have to be fixed before we could get the new cabinets put in. This was the thursday before Memorial Day, a long holiday weekend. Who could we get out on such short notice, and how would we know we were getting the work done at a fair price, etc?

The guy we were working with noticed our confusion and concern. And then the unimaginable happened. He went outside and grabbed his saw. 30 minutes later, this is what the floor looked like. He told us he realized our concerns, and due to various reasons, wanted to help us out. After showing me what was left to be done, I removed the rest of the floor under where the stove was going. He left us with a shopping list, and told us he would be back later during the weekend.

Sure enough, that weekend we got back together, and finished the task, plus plenty more. We cut and fit the plywood you see in this picture, removed a bit of drywall on the inside wall (where the fridge and stove are) and planed the studs to make the wall more even, and he even showed us how to skim coat the walls. We were blown away by this companies hospitality, and are so happy for this. We went from just a quick refresh of our kitchen, to worrying if it would ever be done, to knocking it out of the park in just 2 weeks.

While we did ‘take our time’ when it came to demolishing everything – we really should have planned things out slightly better. Some notes to take away are:

  • Start early. You can’t start ‘too early’. We put it off here and there, and ended up having some late nights in the end. Nothing was too bad, but there were plenty of days in the end where we had to work every night, and didn’t get to take a break.
  • Demo before you even order if you can. We ordered and planned everything out with original measurements. This isn’t a big deal – but if you can give the company building everything a completely clean slate, they may be able to even better plan things out. Due to our 50+ year home, things are sagging a little bit, and some measurements were slightly off (but fixed in the end).
  • Work with great people. We are still amazed by the company we went with, and have already referred multiple customers to them.
  • People like to tear things out. Invite friends over. Get rid of your anger. It can be tiring, but was a lot of fun doing this. Plus just the general activity was fun.

Kitchen Remodel – Part 1 – Planning

While remodeling any room in your house will add value to your home – due to the housing market – there is not as much profit compared to what you spend. But this shouldn’t deter you from making your house a better place for YOU. We kept this in mind and did this remodel with our interests first, but also making sure that our decisions added value to our home.

Our kitchen was so bad, in so many ways:

  • Everything is white. Different shades of white. Different levels of dirty white.
  • It was poorly installed 25+ years ago. Cabinets were hacked into place, countertop wasn’t even secured correctly, etc.
  • It was falling apart. Odd stick-on tiles were cracking and pulling up, doors were ‘fixed’ so many times that screws wouldn’t stay in a few of them, etc.

We decided a little over a year ago that our kitchen was the next ‘big project’. We had already re-finished our floors, updated our Den, painted most rooms for the second time, etc. Other side projects (not house related) had finally calmed down – so we finally had the time to work on this.

We started by meeting with two contractors that work with my wifes work – first with the cabinet guys, then with the flooring guys. We were able to save quite a bit of money using these guys, as well as know they were doing high quality work. I recommend finding your contractors through family, friends, and coworkers first. Check out their work, check reviews, and make sure you are comfortable through the ENTIRE process.

When working with our cabinet contractors, they were great in helping us pick out the actual cabinets, cabinet doors, countertops, and whatever upgrades we wanted. We also slightly wanted to move a few things – our fridge area was misaligned, as well as our stove. We also had about 8″ of wasted space on the other side of the kitchen. We wanted all of this to line up, as well as allow someone to use a larger fridge as well. Finally, we wanted to replace an unfinished island that came with the house with a matching cabinet/countertop combo.

The hardest part of this for us was choosing the countertop color. It’s really hard to choose something so big and important with a 1 x 1.5 inch card sample. We kept a few of the samples, so we could match them to floor colors before placing the final order. We did know we were going to use the same paint color as part of the rest of the house – so everything had to be based around this for now.

A few days later, we visited the flooring company with my mom to pick out a few flooring samples with the countertop samples we already had. We picked up about 4 different types of vinyl, and about 3 samples of laminate flooring. All of these were taken home, matched with the walls, countertop samples, and a white piece of cardboard (to simulate the cabinets, including distance and lightning between the floor and counter). We ended up settling on one particular vinyl floor – because it honestly looked better than some of the laminate, was at a great price, and matched everything perfectly.

Right before we left to go to San Francisco for a week, we received the first draft of our new kitchen. This included two layouts, their estimated costs, and 3D renderings from multiple angles. We sent back some minor modifications and left town.

While away – we managed everything from our iPad. We had almost daily emails back and forth about modifications, clarifications, and new renderings. Our contractor was great to explain everything for us, as well as answer any questions we had. Once everything was finally decided, we were able apply for a loan, confirm the order for the cabinets, order the floor – all over the phone and using our iPad! We had everything set up for the day we got back to sign needed papers and get things rolling! This also meant that we had less of a week of downtime before we had to rip everything out – because everything was being installed in less than 4 weeks!

Some notes about this whole process:

  • Find people you are comfortable with. We loved our contractors. You should too. If you want the name of ours or any info – email me!
  • More things match than you would think – we (well, more so I) was nervous every day that things wouldn’t match. My OCD wanted everything the same color, same direction, etc. You don’t want this. And you would be surprised how many things just blend. If they don’t right away, you can always used accents to adjust things.
  • Find example rooms you like – We were rather locked into our paint choice – due to our homes layout and trying to find matches. So we searched for various pictures online to find designs we liked. I started by searching for ‘white kitchens’, and gathered ideas from there.
  • Keep some design sense, or get help – I don’t have the best eye for design, but I do like doing things myself. I also asked for help and got ideas through the entire process. If you can’t do this – don’t waste your time (and money), and get a designer.
  • Don’t go overboard – our home was built-in the 50’s, is about 1400 sq ft, and in a somewhat working-class neighborhood. Buying granite countertops, top of the line cabinets, and high-end flooring was not only out of our price range – but a stupid choice for the house. We would never recover that cost, and it honestly wouldn’t fit the house. Our new kitchen not only came at a reasonable price – we think it is a major update for the house but also fits the house perfectly.

Kitchen Remodel – Introduction

After being in our house for over 3 years now, we finally got around to remodeling our kitchen. When we purchased the house – it was something we always wanted to do. We never really liked the way the room looked – everything was white (which gets really dirty), falling apart, and dated. Since my wife works with a local homebuilder, we were able to work with some of their contractors to help us through the whole process.

These posts are going to be posted in sets. Part One will cover our planning. Part Two will document our demolition (which we did), and Part Three will be about the prep and installation of everything. Im planning on posting these back to back over the coming week or two.

I have already posted pictures to my flickr account of the whole process. I plan on taking a few more pics soon now that even more stuff is ‘in place’, as well as do a little better job at lighting (most of these were shot quickly while in the middle of stuff).

The whole project was rather overwhelming – and we are glad its done. It took 2-3 months to do everything (and about 2-3 weeks of not having a real kitchen). But we could not be happier!

More posts soon!

Checking out stains

Stopped by the house to check outnthe floors after sanding. We also checked out a stain compared to the natural color, and decided to stay natural. It’s the color on the right, and most of the house will look like the color toward the botom right of the photo.

New Floors – Prep and Paint – Part 1

img_2802This past weekend was a long weekend for me (State employees had Friday and Monday off), so it was the perfect time to get all of our painting knocked out! As I’ve mentioned before, I really enjoy painting, as long as I have the resources and the time.

I started prepping Friday by taping off the entire room and planning my attack. Once everything was taped off, I started priming the hallway and towards the front door. Once Deborah got home I decided to call it quits, but still had about two-thirds of the room left to do. Saturday one of our friends joined us to help finish the primer.

img_0120Sunday we had quite a bit going on around the house. Debs was cleaning and moving, I was cutting in everything, one friend was painting a closet, and another was helping me paint all the walls. After getting into the right ‘groove’, we flew through the whole house, finishing up in the early afternoon. We were a little worried at first due to where I cut in being darker than the rest of the paint, but by dinnertime, we noticed that everything was good to go. With the amount of prep work that went into getting everything set up, we noticed that we were not going to have to do a second coat, and just light touch ups here and there.

Monday I pulled off all the tape and inspected the walls. One of the first thing I noticed was just how BIG the rooms are now! Going from a dark to a much lighter color (especially in our small house), made a huge difference. Also, the walls seem to be much smoother after sanding and priming the walls (the first time we painted we didn’t prep at all).

img_0125Every night this week we have been moving more and more items around to get ready to pull up all the carpet. Tonight we may start moving some of the much larger items, like desks, dressers, etc. Starting Saturday we should be moving our bed and final items to other parts of the house, and pulling up the carpet and hauling away.

We will be staying in Short Pump starting Friday or Saturday night for the next week. We may be stopping by the house almost daily to check out the latest progress. I actually have to go by on my lunch break Monday to check out a few different stain examples. Originally we were going to not stain at all, but after how light the walls are, we decided to check a few out. Our contractor was nice enough to offer to try out 2 colors and the plain look in a small area, so we can make the decision!

New Floors!


Since moving in almost 2 years ago, we have yet to do many large projects other than the Den. But that’s all about to change, because in about 2 weeks, we will be on our way into our largest project yet – redoing our floors!

One of the reasons that we purchased the house is that it was hardwood throughout. But years ago, Deborah’s sister-in-law’s mom (who was the previous owner for 30+ years), put down cheap Berber carpet through most of the house. With not taking really good care of it, it looks terrible, is a pain to clean, and just doesn’t work for us.

After having recommendations from my mom and a friend’s real estate agent for the same person, we settled on a particular company. He came out to the house, did an estimate, and helped us pick a new color. We are actually going to go bare, with an oil based coat. He said that since our floors had some age (over 50 years old), they were going to be slightly darker than usual anyways, and with the oil based coat, it would really shine.

The only problem with oil is that it takes a quite a while to dry. So we are going to have to move out of the house for a week while they sand, prep, and then seal the wood, and then let it cure. We are going to be living with my mom in Short Pump for the week, but stopping by the house to check on progress. I will be taking pictures and posting about everything throughout the week. If I get any notes or tips from the company, I will share them with you as well.


Finally, we are repainting a good portion of the house as well. We painted the entire house (except for the new office) before we moved in. But with the change in floor color (and not being to fond of the current color in the pictures in this post), it was time for a change. We started with the office over Christmas break, which is pretty much done except for some touch-ups. Starting this Friday, I will be prepping and painting the living room, hall, and dining room a much lighter tan/off white. The color we went with was called Vanilla Steam, and its a much lighter color.

As mentioned above, I’m going to be documenting this whole change. I plan on writing a few posts over the course of the work, and plan on eventually linking them all back here!

Blogging more about owning a home

Almost 2 years ago, I started writing quite a few posts about our entire process of home buying in the Richmond, VA area. Some of these posts actually got quite a few hits, helped a few people out doing the same thing, and even helped us make quite a few decisions!

Since then, we have been so busy, with life, work, and more – that we haven’t focused as much on the house as we should. Yes it stays clean and organized, but we have delayed so many projects due in the past due to my busy work schedule or Toby.

Now that we have a bit more time (and more focus), we are starting up some new home projects, even this week durring the Christmas holiday. I started today buy updating our 2 year old ‘to-do list’, marking off complted projects, updating tasks, etc. ( I will post more about this later ). But durring all of this work, I plan to continue blogging about progress under a new merged category, Home Ownership.