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!