July 20, 2016
WOW, it’s been a long while since I wrote anything – over a year since any real home improvement. But to be honest, we haven’t had any DIY mojo over the last year (and truthfully we haven’t had any DIY budget, either). We focused on other hobbies and general life, and very little got done around the house.
That changed in a big way a few weeks ago, when we dove right in to a big kitchen remodel!
It was a slightly impulsive start, even though we’ve been planning to do the kitchen since we bought the house, and have even had a general plan in mind that was decided on. But we didn’t want to start until we could afford to see it through – I didn’t want to do it piecemeal or end up getting stuck with a partially finished kitchen and no funds to finish it.
A year ago, we pulled out several layers of flooring, and painted the underlayment (which I mistakenly called the subfloor) white. Full disclosure: that was a terrible, terrible idea. Not paint itself (it’s reasonably sturdy, although not as much as a traditional finish), but the white. It looked good for maybe the first month, but with two dogs, a toddler, and two full-time working parents (read: people who don’t spend precious non-work hours scrubbing the baseboards!), it was always dirty. It got to the point that I don’t think any amount of bleach or mopping could take away the dingy look.
As a result we absolutely hated being in the kitchen – between the permanently dirty floor, cabinets that were starting to fall apart, and every single appliance being at least partially broken, it was a pretty uninspiring place. But we felt stuck, because it felt like we couldn’t do one major thing without that snowballing into the full kitchen renovation, which we just couldn’t afford.
Then in May, we got a kick in the ass from the universe … the dishwasher broke, for good this time (we’d been able to repair it with $20 worth of parts and some YouTube videos before, but this time it was beyond help). At the risk of revealing my inner diva, that was my tipping point. I think my actual words to Alex were “No. No, that is my line. I did not go to school and work long hours and commute to hand-wash my dishes.”
Fortunately, Memorial Day weekend was coming up, so if you’re in the market for appliances, it’s a pretty good time for sales. Unfortunately it was a slippery slope from “we need a new dishwasher” to “let’s just buy the whole set, since we’ll be buying them all eventually”. We took delivery on the new dishwasher right away, and postponed the rest for as long as we could – through the end of June.
Then the new appliances showed up, and giant boxes started crowding our house.
Here was the perceived dilemma – we couldn’t put the new appliances in until the flooring was completed, and we couldn’t do the flooring until we demoed the cabinets (since it runs continuously under the cabinets, and we are changing the cabinet layout even if it didn’t). In retrospect I don’t know that those are 100% true assumptions, but it felt like a constraint.
Fourth of July weekend we decided – fuck it, let’s just do it. With the (much appreciated) help of two friends, we pulled out the cabinets, the mysterious soffit, the old appliances, the underlayment that had been painted white, as well as the plaster & lath along the exterior wall and ceiling, since we needed access to the electrical and planned on reconfiguring windows / doors on the exterior wall.
While it’s complete chaos, and kickstarted the Pandora’s Box of renovation, it was sincerely a huge relief to demo that kitchen – I went from looking at it and seeing an overwhelming amount of work to looking at it and seeing nothing but potential. The mindset change was enough to get us back into gear!
We also have the world’s cutest helper, who inspires us to keep going: