My Kitchen Facelift Journey

greenhavenMarch 25, 2014

So I thought I would take the opportunity to chronicle my journey into and through a kitchen facelift, seeing as how it shouldn�t be TOO horrendously long of a process. Not too detailed lest this be mistaken for a misplaced blog, but maybe to give some ideas, log my mistakes and give perspective to a reno project even though it will be a (relatively) small one.

First, this is my home:

We bought it and moved in at the very beginning of February 2014 after a sudden job change for my Dear Hubby. We left behind a home in the location of our dreams, so I have had a hard time getting excited about or attached to this house. At around 2200 sq ft it is bigger than I want to have to clean, and is poorly laid out, but it is well-maintained and has the acreage we need to stay rural but close to work for DH and enough to run our dogs and keep my horse and chickens.

This is the kitchen and dining room as it appeared in the real estate listing:

And this is the kitchen a couple weeks ago:

We have not been here long, but we have lived in a lot of houses and one thing was abundantly clear from the moment I saw the ad: I hated that kitchen. We bought this house with my stipulation that I would get to redo the kitchen, and sooner rather than later.

Well, life happens and it looked like it was still going to have to be "later." I could hardly bear to work in the tiny space even with the island, since it is so far away from my cooking space. I started reading here at the Kitchens forum and immediately started learning. I learned renos truly are expensive, tastes run the gamut and there is a lot more than simply picking out my favorite counters and stone.

I also learned I could accomplish a whole lotta change on a much smaller budget by making sacrifices that really didn�t matter that much anyway. A forum member here (was it Ann? I�ll have to look) made the point that if we switched our fridge to the other end of our "L" we could move the range over, insert larger cabinets and gain a LOT more prep and storage space while retaining the open feel granted by the island.

Then I discovered that paint can be a miracle worker and that the stock unfinished cabinets at the big box stores actually had doors that matched my Merrilat doors, even though the boxes are a wreck.

So here, at long last, is my plan: we purchased a new, narrower fridge that fits (mostly) well in the space to the left of our dishwasher. We will pull out the 12" uppers flanking the range and the 12" drawer base (really???) beside it and slide the range down 24". This allows for two 24" base cabs beside the stove, a new 24" upper and a new 36" upper. We ordered quartz countertops for the cabs and my island cabs, and everything will get a thorough paint job.

If I can find a way to overcome the fact that the laminate floor was laid around the island we will also move the island two feet closer to the stove.

I planned to use beadboard on the backsplash, not only because it is inexpensive but I also love it. Then a funny thing happened, I set foot in a local art tile store and fell in love. Hard. Since my space is small, for minimal additional money I would have an amazing tile backsplash and DH said he would rather do that anyway.

Since we still had a lot of store credit at Menards we bought a new sink and faucet, too. Oh, and we are adding pulls to everything.

So, intro over, I will post about my first steps in a reply spot. Here are a couple more pics of the kitchen, please excuse the mess of moving and the stop-gap measures like the bakers rack that doesn�t fit but holds our microwave. Much of that crap has found homes elsewhere.

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So, besides getting my design element ducks in a row (Wall color? Cabinet color? Island color? Laminate or Corian? Corian or quartz?) and assembling or ordering most of the things I will need, my first steps were tentative.

Does the flooring extend under the island? No, of course not, that would be too easy.

Does the flooring extend under the cabinets? Nope. But it does extend under the range and fridge in their current locations.

Is the exhaust fan hard-wired to the wall? Yup.

How exactly are cabinets attached to the floor? Dunno. Well, the ones on the wall are screwed into the wall. The island I still dunno. This first picture shows how I would remove the countertop if this cab were anything but a measly 12-incher. The second is a very poor picture, taken as my battery died, of the screw holding the cab to the back of the wall.

I then had to consider the implications of these findings:
1. The new base cabs would have to sit on the subfloor to be even with the existing cabs, which means cutting out flooring.
2. Moving the island will leave a 22” by 48” hole in the flooring.
3. The exhaust hood power supply will have to be moved, which means hiring an electrician since I am not equal to the task and I will be the main worker on this project.

None of these things are insurmountable, but hiring an electrician will add to the cost unless I can convince DH to do it even though he is working long hours.

As for the island, I am hoping to come up with a solution that will look something like using the pieces I cut out for the new cabinets to fill in the hole under the island then creating some sort of “tile rug” or actual rug to cover that spot since piecing��"in laminate is a no-no.

So now I know some of the hidden secrets before I actually start tearing apart my kitchen. Fortunately, the easiest fix, cutting out laminate sections, is the first thing that has to happen so I can set the base cabs and get templated for counters. Even painting can happen after the fact.

Tomorrow I remove the 12” base cab. Knowledge is power.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 10:43PM
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You have great plans for a facelift, which will make an amazing difference in your kitchen. Looking forward to seeing your progress.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 6:04AM
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This is great - thanks for posting. All the problem solving is very interesting - can't wait to see what you come up with!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 7:36AM
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"1. The new base cabs would have to sit on the subfloor to be even with the existing cabs, which means cutting out flooring."

No, simply cut the base of the cabinets down. It isn't that difficult and will look much better than cutting the flooring.
"2. Moving the island will leave a 22” by 48” hole in the flooring."

True dat, but can you get matching replacement flooring? It isn't that difficult to install.
"3. The exhaust hood power supply will have to be moved, which means hiring an electrician since I am not equal to the task and I will be the main worker on this project."

Remove the cabinets and hood, then run the existing wire into an electrical box that you'll set in the wall behind where an upper cabinet will land. Run a wire from the box to the new hood location. Cut the back of the new cabinet to allow access to the box and to connect the wires. You can install a duplex receptacle in this box or a blank cover, but it must remain accessible per code. Fairly simple.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 7:39AM
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Trebuchet! AWESOME!!! Your number 1 suggestion is brilliant and much more appealing (and less messy in the house!) Plus, if I screw that up it could be disastrous.

I will have to think about suggestion number 2. Fortunately I do not have to address that right away (if ever) but I sure do want to move that island. Plus, when the fridge comes it will be a tight fit for opening the doors with the island in its current position. I am sure I could at least figure out where the sellers got the flooring, but I am not convinced a replacement patch will look good enough to warrant the extra work.

Suggestion number three is another brilliant idea; do you think I could get a box to face down through the bottom of the cabinet so I could lose the wall outlet?

Glad this thread might be of some use to someone out
there, I started to think that maybe I was being and egotistical freak.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 8:52AM
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This is so interesting - thanks for posting! Have you thought about sliding the island closer to the range and then putting new cabs over the exposed subfloor? Extra storage and more working counter space - win, win, maybe?

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 8:53AM
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fourambules, I certainly have, something similar has been suggested to me here at GW Kitchens. It is worth visiting again, though, because that would be AWEsome! What i will have to do is see how having the fridge in the new location will be impacted by the position of the island. I might put the old fridge in the new location today to see how it goes. The depths are about the same while the new one is narrower.

That will mean additional countertop there on the island, but that will amount to around....(counting fingers)....$420 +/-. Again, not having to move that right away is a luxury that affords me such experimentation.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 9:18AM
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If that flooring is just click-together, you may be able to pull it all up and rearrange to fill the void left by moving the island. I did the same in my kitchen when I removed tile that was on part of the floor. Also, look to see if that same flooring is in other parts of the house. You may be able to use some of that (I used flooring that was covering up a jacuzzi in what was supposed to be a formal dining room!).

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 9:42AM
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Oh, yes, that was your thread about coordinating island color where that was discussed - oops!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 9:43AM
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I'm on board, look forward to watching the progress.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 9:45AM
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Why not make a bigger island? Leave it where it is and extend the SIZE two feet. You could use the counter space and have the room to do this in this kitchen.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 9:47AM
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fourambules, no worries, some things are just worth re-visiting, and that is one of them. This brain-storming process could be a major game changer.

beautybutdebtfree, I *think* that is essentially the same thing fourambules mentioned. There are some options for making a larger island, I just have to be sure the fridge will still function well with the island there.

I am hung up ATM with getting my woodstove to stop smoking since our propane is so low, or I would already be all over this.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 9:58AM
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I have no advice, but wanted to wish you luck on your journey. There is amazing potential for improvement in your existing kitchen and I look forward to your reveal!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 10:13AM
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I also find it illuminating to follow someone else's thought process. You have clearly thought about this a lot and you describe it well. (As I tell my friends, "I love other people's projects the best! They are so little stress and don't cost me any money!" )

Good luck in your endeavors, I bet it will turn out great.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 10:30AM
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No advice here either, but full of admiration for what you are going to accomplish & will be following along.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 11:17AM
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Wow, Greenhaven, sounds like you have a great plan!

Be forewarned - I moved my range 12", and the electrician needed to move the wiring. Where the old range plugged in was exactly where the new base cabinet was going to go. You may get lucky, but you may be stuck. I don't want you to be surprised. The good news is that you only have to pull the range out to see where the outlet is.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 11:30AM
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Before you rush into a countertop for the island, please explore whether you could make it more functional and attractive. Even moved, it's two cabinets in a big box, and you so need drawer space in your kitchen. Maybe you could replace it entirely as a later project, but you wouldn't do so with a very expensive quartz countertop on it.

The previous homeowner's ornate antique furniture in that space...egads!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 11:54AM
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I wish you luck & will be following your progress. For me, the process of typing out my thoughts helps me see things more clearly, so I certainly don't view your postings as egotistical. I think many will benefit from them. It might serve as a reality check for those embarking on a remodel who see weekend transformations on TV and think it will be that fast and easy:)

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 12:19PM
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Thank you all for your support! annkh, excellent point, i will do that before I do anything else. (Check the outlet placement, that is.) An exploratory trip that got left out. Fortunately (?) the new cabinets are such low-end in cost that I am not averse to cutting into one to accommodate the oven plug if that is the best way to go. If I have to have an electrician for the hood then I will have both done.

Made some changes already, will give complete updates at the end of each day (if there are updates to be had.)

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 12:37PM
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may_flowers, you are absolutely right and you might have finally pushed me over the edge on the island. I think I will paint and get a cheap BB top for it for now and live with it a little bit.

amck, it is watching just about a gazillion of those weekend (or week!) makeovers that sort of clued me in to the fact that there are ALWAYS surprises and unexpected expenses, and that the key to surviving those is have realistic expectations and minimizing those surprises. I cannot believe how many people tear up their soffits only to discover major ductwork or electrical in them. A 2" drilled hole and a flashlight are often enough to assess those things before major demolition.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 12:51PM
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Running into a snag that feels deflating; I am already hating having the fridge at that end of the "L." I am shocked at how much light it really blocks off from the slider, even though it is the north side of the house. I am wondering if a counter-depth fridge would make that much of a change, although it would help with the pinch point between fridge and island (in its current position.)

The new fridge will be a french door model. A counter-depth would be the same width as the new one already ordered but would be 3 cu ft less in capacity.

Oh my lands, please forgive my wreck. I am at a point in my work in the kitchen today where I need to chew on some things, and I will be clearing up a lot of my detritus while I do it.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 1:14PM
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My thoughts exactly about the light blockage when it was suggested you move the fridge there. I also remember thinking that it would be in the direct line of sight from the front of the house, but function trumps placement if it gives you more work space. Is your new fridge CD? I think you need one for the size of your kitchen. Wish they held more food though. Trade-offs, arggggh!

Painting the island and adding butcher block is a great idea!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 1:28PM
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It is not counter-depth currently, but I do not think it will be a problem if we make the change soon. I will discuss with DH when he gets home tonight. The fridge he picked has an icemaker in the door (not my first choice) so if we forego the icemaker in the door we may not actually lose that much capacity. And the CD fridge is SS (as is the one we bought) and a couple hundred cheaper, too.

edited for clarification

This post was edited by greenhaven on Wed, Mar 26, 14 at 13:59

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 1:56PM
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Yep, that could be a deal-breaker.

Here's a wild-crazy thought: how about eliminating the island completely, putting the fridge in that location, and building a corner of walls to enclose it? Yes, it would block some of the openness from kitchen to dining, but you would gain (relatively) vast expanses of counter on the sink and range walls.

I would still have a walkway between fridge and range, and some sort of landing area next to the fridge.

You prep on the island now because it's the only space you've got, but I think if you had more space around the range, you'd do most of your prep there.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 2:00PM
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Am stopping here for the night, dry fit the cabs, moved fridge, cleaned up a bunch. Gonna sit on this and see how I feel in the morning. Will give details later tonight. Keep in mind all cabs are getting painted off white and the island a soft gray. That might help with the light issues.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 3:54PM
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You are SO going to love that new counter space!

It will be interesting to see if you adjust to the change in light. I think a counter-depth fridge might help a lot.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 4:35PM
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"Suggestion number three is another brilliant idea; do you think I could get a box to face down through the bottom of the cabinet so I could lose the wall outlet?"

You can put the box in the bottom of the cabinet, but you must do it without exposing any Romex (wire) or, if you do expose Romex, you must cover it in flexible metallic conduit (a.k.a Greenfield).

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 4:52PM
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Here is a summary of the day’s happenings:

The first thing I tackled this morning was clearing the baker’s rack of all its paraphernalia and relocating it to the laundry room in preparation for moving the fridge to the slider-end of the “L.” I had, however, forgotten about the icemaker, so when I pulled out the fridge I saw this:

“Well, that can’t be that hard,” I thought. I knew I could not just unscrew the connector, so I scurried to the computer to make sure I took all the appropriate steps. Isn’t the internet a grand thing, sometimes?

Per instructions I traced the water line back to this shut-off valve:

It was a simple matter to turn that valve clock-wise until firmly tight, then go back upstairs to loosen the connector nut:

Just in case of spillage I had a bucket ready, but vacuum (or something?) kept all the water in the line and nary a drop hit the floor.

I did remember to measure the space between the island and the counter before attempting to move the heavy fridge through that opening. I made it with less than an inch to spare!

I had some immediate concerns about the fridge blocking light in that location that I talked about in a few comments above so will not go back into that.

After cleaning all the accumulated yick off the walls and floor around and under the fridge I tackled that 12” base. I ended up taking the top off anyway, because I could not access the screws holding it to the walls with enough torque to get them out:

After removing those screws the base was still loathe to come out and I just could NOT figure it out, although it appeared to be attached in the front. So I pried the cover off the toe-kick, and sure enough, two more screws held it in place in the front.

Seemed like a little overkill for an itty bitty 12-er, but whatever. Taking them out freed the cab and it came easily out. It and the top found a perfect new home between my washing machine and wall in the laundry room.

The next task was to pull out the range and assess the placement of the power supply. annkh had brought it up and it was something I had failed to foresee, or had dismissed as not having a lot of potential to be a problem. Wrong. That sucker is huge!

So I mentally listed my options as 1. asking DH to do both electrical relocations or 2. hiring an electrician. I called a local electrician and had a message left to get a rough estimate but never heard back. But when I got back from taking the dogs to the vet DH had already moved the range power supply! He said he will do the exhaust fan when I move the other cabinets. Love that dude…

So, after cleaning up yet more abundant yick (and way before the power supply had been moved) I slid the range down 24” and dry-fit the two new bases. A clarification here, though; I did purchase a 3-drawer base and will use it on the right of the stove instead of the drawer-door base. That one will get returned. I am having a very difficult time deciding whether both those bases should be drawer bases.

So, yay! Room for both bases, just as the measuring tape told me, but we all know how they can lie sometimes. Got a little stuck, mentally, and spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning up and putting things away.

I am already feeling better about the fridge, and DH does not see a problem with it. It is true that once I move the island (have decided to do that) it will not be quite as squishy there and I do looove the open feel of my workspace now. Even with only the fridge change the island feels more accessible. For ha-has I measured again the distance from range to island…nearly six feet! I just shake my head and wonder why…

I do think we will probably do a little “tile rug” where the island hole will be. DH brought it up before I even mentioned it, so that said something to me. He is a guy, but he has pretty strong feelings about things looking right, and if we both went down that thought path then there is a good chance it will be the right thing. Still not going to rush it, though.

The last thing I did tonight was to paint some clingy sheets with my color samples so I can stick them on the walls and cabinets and see them in the daylight.

Okay, I lied. The last thing I did was start seriously second-guessing my decision to do tile instead of beadboard. I love the tile, but it is feeling dishonest. I will start a new thread for opinions on that, in case anyone wants to weigh in.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 3:12AM
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Good for you!

Any additions to your stove wiring had to be made in an electrical box too. Unless he only had to shorten the wire, you should be looking at a blank cover on the wall somewhere near the old outlet.

Before cutting the base, level the cabinet next to the countertop with shims. Place a level on the countertop, overhang the cabinet, and measure to the cabinet. Subtract the countertop thickness and that's how much you have to cut off the base before installation.

Pull your stove out of the way and screw the base cabinets to the wall after shimming for level, plumb, and flush with the existing. Leave about 301/8" between them. They should be level front to back, side to side, and in an "x" over the stove opening.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 6:47AM
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First thought: I hope you don't injure your back!

Second thought: Will you install a water line to the fridge?

Third thought: Could you turn the island so the drawers face the sink? Roomier at the fridge, opens up the kitchen, and better for prep?

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 7:53AM
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I don't visit the kitchen forum much anymore, but you can be sure I'll be checking daily now to see your updated progress reports and all the good info. Pretty impressive that you and DH are so handy!

I think a CD fridge will help a lot, and you're already getting used to the fridge there, so it'll be fine. Your layout is so much better now!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 8:39AM
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I'm glad you're changing to drawers, on one side, at least. Figure out what you want to put there, and make sure things fit the way you want. My drawer bases came with the two lower drawers the same height, even though I had specified a certain usable height in the bottom drawers to accommodate my cake pans (on their sides) in one, and sugar/flour canisters in the other. With same-height drawers, my stuff didn't fit. Because it was on the plans, my cabinet maker gladly rebuilt them to spec.

Measure the drawers before you buy - or bring home one drawer stack, and test fit your things. It will be well worth the effort.

Oh, and getting wider uppers around the range - you are going to love that too! We put a spice rack inside the door on one side, which is really handy.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 10:25AM
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I'll be honest that I am not digging the fridge there for the long term. I think you need to enclose the fridge for it to look like it's part of the kitchen and not something squeezed in where it doesn't belong. Chances are it won't have attractive sides, so you'll need a side panel. Then you'll need cabinets above the fridge, which will really block the light. When you move the island closer to the stove, the fridge will be even more prominently in the sight line from the front door.

I'm thinking I would get a FD CD fridge for the corner and put my money into a new island that works as prep and drawer storage. Make the island longer and turn it so you can pivot from sink to your island prep space. Add a trash pull-out to the island. Seats on the backside won't interfere with your hallway, so that's one space issue you won't have to worry about. Add attractive side panels to avoid the box appearance.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 10:32AM
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You are moving right along! I love that you are doing this yourselves, we did the same. It's very rewarding and you will save a ton :)

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 10:35AM
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Trebuchet, thanks again!

I am posting a couple pics of the power supply relocation to clarify the process and show good practice. I should have done this yesterday, but did not even think to look at it myself. DH is an electrician, though not by trade, exactly and I just trusted it was done right. It was!

Here is the completed relocation, as you can see there is only a hole drilled through the floor and some screw holes in the wall to show where it once was.

Here in the basement I could see that there was plenty enough slack in the supply cord to simply disconnect it from the plug, re-route it through a newly-drilled hole, and re-wire it to the plug. Then a simple matter of mounting the plug back to the wall.

I know not every power supply is like this one, but we got lucky that it was such an easy transition.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 10:53AM
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Missed a couple posts while I was hashing over my hangups.

1. I called the fridge retailer and extended our delivery date from Friday (tomorrow) to next week so I could think about it some more. Frankly, nothing I do in this kitchen will be ideal without tearing it all out and getting all new cabinets, so I really have to think about how to make the best use of the space I've got.

2. A lot of suggestions for the island are really good ones, so today, in addition to removing the uppers I am going to disconnect the island cabinet (one 48" drawer/door base cab) and slide it around in the space an see what I've got. Or maybe I will play around with the virtual designer, but that never fully translates into realistic application.

3. Found out today (should have asked at the outset!) that I can expect 4-5 weeks from ordering counters to installation. Ugh! I should have known this, really, but did not think about it. I will have everything else done (except maybe backsplash, depending,) for a long time before counters go in. This might be a good thing.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 11:06AM
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You mentioned your floor is laminate. If it is floating then you should be able to cut it where is no longer needed and then use the pieces to patch it in. I put a link below on patching laminate.

I would consider when moving the island 2 ft closer to still put in storage in the other space, but maybe make the island narrower to allow more space to the dishwasher and sink area. This would make a smaller area to patch and I think with salvaged pieces you can do it.

Here is a link that might be useful: patch laminate

This post was edited by lyfia on Thu, Mar 27, 14 at 11:08

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 11:07AM
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Looking good!
Edit: Should have read through before posting : ) I am enjoying following your progress.

This post was edited by rtwilliams on Thu, Mar 27, 14 at 11:30

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 11:25AM
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Not a super-productive day; tax-filing day and rounding up all the paperwork consumed most of my day. I did play around a little with my color samples and thought about tile vs. beadboard and drew no conclusions.

After the accountant we came home and I thought I would just zip down the uppers and maybe paint the soffit while they were down.

First I pried the trim off the top of the cabinets:

Then I noted that they were screwed both into the wall behind them and into each other:

When the last two wall screws were fairly loose I gave the cabinet an experimental jiggle, and it was still pretty tight. Took a closer look, and sure enough, two more screws holding it into the soffit at the top.

Again probably overkill, but better too many screws than not enough, right?

After I figured that out is was a breeze to get them down. If they had been any bigger I would not have been able to support them down off the wall by myself.

All ready to take down the hood and hood cabinet I had a DOH! moment when I remembered the wiring in the hood. Not a difficult thing, but it would have to be de-energized, which probably meant de-energizing my light sources, too. I decided to just stop there and get at it in the daylight.

So here is where I stopped:

Once the cabinets are down I will paint the soffit the same color as the cabs to give the illusion of height.
I got a call from the quartz expeditor; they had a cancellation and I could have had them out tomorrow morning to template but there was no way I was going to be ready, much to my chagrin. But they are coming on the 10th for that, and scheduled an install for the 24th, so that is not bad at all!

Decided to stay with the fridge we already bought, but am going to play around with island positioning tomorrow, probably.

Doing this project in small bites has its advantages, like doing just enough to stay fairly functional in the kitchen while I accomplish goals.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 9:17PM
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This is more fascinating to me than a serial novel. And you are in fact a heroine...what a role model you are. I had a rather silly thought. Rather than all the fuss of converting the island...and worrying about the floor...could you just extend the counterop to bring it closer to the stove? If not, I read in Better Homes a couple of months ago of how a couple expanded their island by adding a match piece and creating cohesion with a larger counter top over all of it. My apologies in advance if the idea is really lame.

I am so looking forward to the next installment of the saga. This beats Netflix.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 10:10PM
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Greenhaven, I agree with carree, your posts beat TV any day of the week. Thanks for keeping up the running commentary and all the photos. I so admire your guts. And yes, your hubby is quite the guy. Somewhere in FKB is photos of a beautiful updated kitchen where someone put a longitudinal board on the soffit, thinner molding between cab tops and soffit, and then crown molding between soffit and ceiling. It looked really nice, very professional, like one with the cabinets. Keep up the great work.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 10:59PM
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carree, your idea is not lame at all, and is, in fact, one of the two options I have narrowed down to. (Grammar much? :o/ ) It will be that you brought up or simply moving the existing cab/island closer to the stove.

Texasgal, I looove your idea of jazzing up the soffit! I would especially love not having to scrape that border off before painting. ;o) I will still have a lot of it to take down, but it will not hold up my kitchen project.

My head is a-buzz with new ideas, now, thank you so much! And thanks both for your kind words, glad someone is getting something out of this. I am no heroine, but fairly self-sufficient. Definitely feeling the inadequacies of an aging body, for sure.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 11:13PM
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Oh, and here is a general rendering of the general expected outcome, color-wise and layout-wise with the exception that I will be painting the island a soft grey. I think. I have a fairly large sample color and will have the opportunity to try it out before buying more paint. Yay samples!

This helped me realize that I really like the cleaner look here and would not be happy with the tile and accent. They are very, very beautiful but I do not think they belong in my kitchen.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 11:18PM
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This is a real treat to read, especially with the photos. My opinion is to turn the island also. By doing that, you could move it closer to stove and sink, and have room for seats on side opposite the sink, be able to look out the window over the sink. Keep in mind your spacing between sink, stove and island. Our kitchen re-do, had originally not left enough space between island to get 36 In. fridge out, counter had to be removed to gain that space.
You may get lucky on the border, lots of folks put them up, and don't add extra glue, so they come down easy, especially using Downy and water. Can't wait for more updates. You're amazing to tackle this project.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 11:54PM
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Very nice! I like it. If you rotate the island, I'm wondering if the MW could be put on a shelf in the island since it seems to take up a lot of real estate on your counter. (If the electrical can be run up from the basement.) Also, I don't think you'd lose more natural light if a cab above the fridge were full depth of the appliance and then put panels on each side of the fridge. It's always easy to dream some more when someone else is putting in the sweat equity. One more thought which you probably won't like, is to put open shelves on either side of the kitchen window to allow more natural light into the kitchen.

Edited to add that I found the kitchen with the soffit that was redone on FKB, It's called Legallin's Partially Finished Kitchen. If you go down her postings to Kathy on Feb. 24, 04 at 7:14 she discussed how she did the soffit. I also noted that she has an email on her member page if you have more questions.

This post was edited by Texasgal47 on Fri, Mar 28, 14 at 1:10

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 12:17AM
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Great saga! :)

An idea. Could you put some shelving above the fridge instead of cabinets? Perhaps it would help with the light?

This is not a terrible kitchen. I know you don't like it much, but I think it's morphing into a very functional space.

It pays to stop, take a nap, have a glass of wine, watch some boob tube or just plain give yourself a break. Sometimes the obstacles just go away when you don't obsess. I'm here to tell you, being in my 6th year of rebuilding. I've torn my kitchen apart 3 times changing cabinets and things. But it's my kitchen and my prerogative!

I'll also be watching. The ideas are why we're here, right!?!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 1:49AM
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The ideas indeed! Thanks, CEFreeman! And those breaks are a godsend. I really appreciate being able to take my time somewhat so I get used to the space gradually.

Texasgal47, I would have loved to leave off the cabinets around the sink entirely. The rendering view does not show it well but there is a corner diagonal upper cab and between it and the sink is only a little 12"-er...again...gah. If I increase the size of the island I might get away with shelves or removing the uppers by the sink.

I also think the mw takes up way too much counter space, I have been trying to figure out how to get it off the counter without putting it above the stove. I might still dothat if I do not do tile. The only other place would be somewhere in the island, so believe me, I am trying to work that out! Thought about a diagonal island positioning...

Thanks, too, for the direction to look for that thread. Look forward to it.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 6:23AM
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Re-reading through this thread this morning has been enlightening.

First, I realized just how many questions and comments get missed or forgotten to answer, so I apologize. I take very little personally, and do not want to come across as dismissive. I truly read every comment and suggestion and add them to my considerations.

I welcome them all because it is oftentimes those who are outside the situation that see things the best. The converse is also true, sometimes, that it ends up being the person who has to live in/with the space who can make the best decision.

Another dreary day that refuses to allow me to assess true light flow in the kitchen. Oh well.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 8:41AM
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The idea of shelving sounds like something you could do since you are painting the cabinets too and you could rearrange the cabinets and remove the corner one and place the sink side cabinets on the stove side.

Something I would look into is adding a deeper cabinet above the fridge and put a plywood panel to hide the side of the fridge towards the dining area. I think it would make it look a little more finished and built in if you did that.

I really like the idea of covering the soffit to make it look like it is part of the cabinets.

Have you considered what you will do for lights? I think that would help brighten it up too.

Fridge with deep cabinet and side panel

This post was edited by lyfia on Fri, Mar 28, 14 at 9:23

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 8:46AM
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A couple of DIY refrigerator cabinet solutions in the blog links from "Young House Love" and "Love grow at home". Several 30 and 33 inch refrigerators to purchase to fit your narrow space there. Several on the Home depot link are on sale!

Have you considered running the island perpendicular to your sink like maryannboffeys kitchen below? This of course gives you more patching to do.

Here is a link that might be useful: Home depot slim refrigerators

This post was edited by rtwilliams on Fri, Mar 28, 14 at 9:54

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 9:36AM
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So that's the third suggestion to turn the island. I really think it's the answer to your prep issues. You won't have to prep in the corner at all, and you can add so much storage.

Can the microwave go on the new small counter next to the stove? I like to keep the area around the sink clear of appliances except for coffee-making.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 10:31AM
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Greenhaven, I love your updates too!

I don't think cabinets above the fridge will block a lot of light, since the patio door is not much taller than the fridge. Put a cardboard box up there to see if it makes a big difference.

I see you're worried about your MW, and it does take up a lot of space. Does your current hood vent to the outside? If not, OTR might be a reasonable choice. But you may need a different cabinet above. When we replaced a hood like yours with an OTR, the MW came down so far we could hardly see the back burners. What were we thinking? The MW we had was a monstrosity, purchased in 1984. It took up a good 2 feet of counter space!

I have a cute little Whirlpool MW that has a round back, and fits neatly into a corner. It isn't the fastest thing in the world, but we mostly use it to reheat leftovers and cook veggies, so it's fine. Once you increase your prep space by the range, something like this may do the trick.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 10:38AM
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I am all for getting the microwave off of the counter in a kitchen. When we moved into DH's grandpa's house on the farm last summer there was a gigantic old microwave taking up 1 3/4 of the two feet of counterspace I had. There was a corner that was free in the kitchen so I just bought a three shelf wire rack and put the microwave and toaster oven on it. If we were going to stay here long term we would have put in a tall bookshelf instead.

I too have been following your story, and since my one and only show I watched ended on Wednesday (no I'm okay, really. Crap I loved that show. It's still in syndication though). I think you said you didn't want to put the microwave above the range so here are some pictures from Houzz with a microwave on shelves or in an open cabinet space.

I wish I was better at giving others help with their space, but it's hard to visualize for me if it isn't my space (unless it's a glaring problem) so skip over this if you don't like it. :) Good luck!

Contemporary Kitchen by San Francisco Interior Designers & Decorators Justrich Design

Traditional Kitchen by San Francisco Architects & Designers Boor Bridges Architecture

Eclectic Kitchen by Indianapolis General Contractors Wrightworks, LLC

Traditional Kitchen by Wellesley Kitchen & Bath Designers Divine Kitchens LLC

Contemporary Kitchen by Mountain View General Contractors Harrell Remodeling

Transitional Kitchen by San Francisco General Contractors Moroso Construction

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 10:44AM
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Annkh! I love your tiny microwave. But I love your puppy better. :) Matches the kitchen, as it should be.

IowaCommute, those are exactly what I'm looking for. I have the microwave cabinet (complete with the outlet inside the cabinet) of the last picture. That's how I discovered as short as I am, I hate bending down to look in there. Let alone clean. Clean!?! Out of sight...

I'm off to see what those little ones are and who makes them. I'm aiming to retrofit an upper cabinet next to the stove for a MW.

As greenhaven can attest, one of the benefits of DIY is changing your mind and it not giving the whole world a heart attack. [whisper] sure, it might cost 'ya if you don't have a handy-dandy-man(dy Ok, it rhymed) around, but it's just money I made to spend on myself, anyway, right? Isn't that what $$ boils down to in the first place? Better MW treatment. :)

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 12:07PM
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Christine, what is giving me a slight heart attack (angina?) is that quartz counters are coming soon, so I want to make sure that this is all workable before thousands of dollars are spent.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 12:25PM
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may_flowers, don't worry. It's the other "a" word: anxiety. It'll go a way with a nice gallon of wine and a straw, or when they're finally installed. You can set that gallon down (on a coaster if it's red. I know how protective people are) and pet your counters.

I'm online right now, pricing a couple of's cabinets. I only need a couple to complete my kitchen. I am SO psyched at my tax return!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 12:38PM
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Here is another vote for turning the island, and actually moving it over a bit so that it acts rather like a 3rd "wall" along the edge of the kitchen. Is there any reason to leave the path to the hall open? And, if you made it a narrower island, instead of the standard 24", would you still have enough work space and storage space, plus a place for the microwave? I am only thinking narrower to give the whole kitchen a roomier feel. It seems to me that I don't use that back 6" of counter except as storage space.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 2:25PM
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Ha ha, you people crack me up! Gallon of wine with a straw? Yes please, lol! Although it takes me precisely two glasses to get me tipsy so I would have to share that wine. Let's all pull up hay bales and pass the jug.

Uploading photos right now, got way more done than I thought I would given that I had to be out all morning and had to take both dogs back to vet for blood draws. Turns out both tested positive for Lyme Disease exposure.

Anyway, DH and I managed to get the island off the floor (details later) so we could play around with it. I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the best scenario is going to be leaving it in it's current orientation and sliding it up until it is 42" from the stove. The best orientation was, actually, a diagonal position, but the floor was going to be toooo much of a hassle to make it worth it. Turning the island to face the sink does no good at all, because to keep it far enough away from the range it would not be in front of the sink at all. AND the short end is near the stove, and I would rather be closer to the stove than the sink.

The advantage to keeping the island the same size is that the fridge seems to loom muuuch less in it's spot, and yes, the fridge needs cabs or shelves above and some panels. I don't want to start a riot, so I will lay it down as a promise, lol!

CEFreeman is exactly right about one major advantage to DIY and making changes on the fly. I am actually enjoying it, for the most part!

Stay tuned, because I made my first real mistake today, and discovered something shocking...

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 4:02PM
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I want the Corgi

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 5:01PM
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Greenhaven, you are pretty much Wonder Woman in my book.

Iowacommute, thanks for the photo collection of microwaves on shelves-- just what I needed to find this week! Half of those photos have the same model, it looks like to me-- anyone know what it is?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 5:20PM
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This is NOT a difficult remodel, I assure you, but thanks! It is immensely satisfying to be accomplishing these things mostly by myself. It does help that we have been DIY-ing for a long time, and I do most of my barn chores by myself including small construction projects. I am comfortable with power tools and live with a super-smart guy.

Project work started simply enough, although later in the day than ideal. About noon I got home and first thing wanted to pull up that island and play with it. I wanted DH home if not actually doing the electrical work on that hood.

So I pulled the toekick facing off to see that there was an obvious screw holding the thing down in the front, and an obvious screw hole where someone went a little monkey-torque on it.

Screw came out easily enough, but the cab was not wiggling as much as really should have been considering there were no more screws to be seen and no way for the bottom to come out of it. I thought maybe the (confirmed de-energized) wiring that went to the defunct outlet was holding it to the floor, even though I thought we had verified that there was no wiring coming through the floor into the basement.

I went downstairs anyway, just to make sure sure and discovered this:

I have seen enough Mike Holmes in action to know that that was probably not a hot wire, but I did the right thing and pulled out the circuit tester. Whaddya know…hot. The other end disappears into the wall and probably connects to the outlet above the dishwasher. My guess it that it was run out there for the purpose of wiring the island and they never got that far. That will get capped off post haste!!!

So, it was not wiring holding the island down. DH comes home early but is not feeling well at all. He cannot resist giving the island a good yank, though, and it is revealed through gapping that there is a cover panel on the backside of the island.

Pop off the corner trim…

Pop off the back panel…

And lo and behold, two more screws! Amazing how easy it is to pick up cabinetry when it is not firmly fastened to the floors and walls.

Played around with some various island positions, and decided that simply moving it closer was going to be our best bet, if not an ideal orientation. It really takes the pressure off the fridge and makes access o it so much easier. I also think it is important to maintain access all the way around the island, plus, a tile rug will be wicked fun to make! I was very pleasantly surprised to see how much simply moving the island closer made the space feel more like a, well, kitchen.

It was time to pull down the rest of the cabs and the stove hood, so I headed downstairs to inspect the breaker situation. Because we all know WE ALL KNOW that we do NOT do electrical work of any kind until the lines are properly de-energized. NO cutting corners!

Took me three tries, but I finally found the right breaker and I was free to dismantle the hood. DH shouted encouragement from the couch (justified, I promise!) or if he needed to come in and answer a question he did. I was happy to be doing my first official electrical work with his guidance.

The first thing I did was disconnect the ground wire by unscrewing that little screw until the wire was free. Then it was simply a matter of unscrewing the wire nuts and separating the wires into those that would stay with the hood and those that would stay in the wall.

The hood was attached to the cabinet above with four small screws, and all that was needed was some loosening so that they would slide into the big openings and the hood would pop off.

EXCEPT, I did not realize the blue collar around the wires that would stay in the wall was clipped to the hood. Now I had to call DH in to hold the hood while I squeezed the little tabs on the collar to free it from the hood. THEN it came off, lol!

The remaining cabinets came down without too much trouble. Some of the screws were only in drywall, however, so when they were all off the wall I labelled the screw holes that were truly in studs then marked lines on the wall to make it easier to hit studs when the cabinets go back up.

Next we had to make a safe home for the wires dangling out of the wall (still de-energized.) I bought this box and cover because the original plan was to dead end the wires in it behind the wall, after being properly wire-nutted and not just electrical taped like they are currently. Now the plan is to run power to the new stove hood (oh, yeah, getting a new stove hood) from that box instead of the outlet behind the stove.

But the box still had to go in, so I marked the height of the nailing flanges and cut from the hole in the wall over to the stud with what should have been a drywall saw but was, in fact, a hack saw.

Hey, we just moved in, alright? Lol It did the job just fine. I put some cardboard down to catch most of the crumbs and chunks.

Unfortunately, I did not make the hole big enough to be able to hammer nails into the flange to hold it to the stud, so I enlarged the hole. Tricky business, and not very pretty, but a serviceable job done. And yes, I knew those wires were in the wall behind the drywall, so I was very carefull to moved them out of the way so I would not cut into them with the saw.

It was then, at that moment, that I realized I had made a boooooo boo. My 36” cabinet was not going to cover that entire hole. :o(


Now I have to enlarge the hole all the way to the next stud so I can piece in some drywall. It is actually fairly cheap and easy to pick up small pieces at hardware and Big Box Stores. Since I am using beadboard it would not have to be pretty and mudded; in fact it would not technically have to be patched, but it would be awful if something punched through the beadboard at just that location. Given the way things run around here it would happen. Murphy’s Law prevails.

So FINALLY that box is nailed in, the blue collar clipped into it, and the wires hanging where they belong. I did not take a photo, but the entire length of bare ground wire and the exposed parts of the black and white wires were thoroughly wrapped in electrical tape. We have not re-energized that line yet, but the tape will protect us enough temporarily and will keep the wires from shorting out on each other.

To cap the day’s work I took some photos of my countertop and color samples with my pulls. And, actually, the back of the panel on the backside of the island was just unfinished luan, so I put a coat of primer on it so I could use it to test my two choices for island colors.

The tan is not showing it’s color very well. Cabs will be the "off-white," walls will be the tan, island one of the grays. Please feel free to input on the darker or lighter gray. I will likely still paint both onto the panel tonight to get a better idea.

Just for satisfaction’s sake I pulled down the lace curtain and aluminum curtain rod and dismantled the blind. The rod brackets came off without their nails, and there was no way to get enough leverage to pull them with a hammer or pry bar, so I hammered them flush then used a screw to countersink them a little. Then I can just tweak some spackle over them before I paint.

Busy, busy, busy today! I am still going out tonight to pick up a new stove hood and exchange some pulls since I am going with a drawer base now. I decided to keep the other drawer/door so I could have my big pots available to me. No custom cabs, so I make these work.

Okay, this was long enough. Cookies and milk to anyone who lasted the whole way through.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 5:53PM
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Almost all of the decorators/builders state that they're either Panasonic, GE Space Saver, or GE Space Saver II.
I'm really big on reading what people tell me about their space. Most of those (and other after searching again) do. These are the models most mentioned.

One has a great link to AJMadison, who can list you microwaves by height, width or depth. Very cool.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 5:54PM
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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, please. No need to fire up the ol' oven for me!
Wine, with a straw will do, too.

BTW. Remind yourself why God made cell phones. So DH doesn't have to yell from the couch!

I have to remove my own hood soon. I'm going to get beaded inset cabinets for over my fridge. I remember holding it while DH put it in, so I might have to borrow a neighbor. Shoot. That'll mean I have to clean and ... um .. refresh the cat litter. Hate company!

Anyway, great job today. Funny how the little things make such a huge difference, immediately. BTW. I love the island on the diagonal!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 6:34PM
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To patch the drywall you can use a 3/8" wood paint stick or other piece of wood. Screw it in to the drywall on the already attached part and then cut a piece to fit the hole and use the stud and the other wood piece to screw the new piece in. Tape and mud.

Can you do this for your island?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 6:36PM
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lyfia, I could do that. It is still a slim possibility, but I rather like not having the island blocking the fridge, and I am not sure I need that big of an island.

Still a possibility, will throw my yet-to-be-returned base cabinet under it and feel it out.

CEFreeman, I do too, it is my favorite. DH does not want to deal with the floor, but he is also grumpy and not feeling well today. Am going to think about it some more and keep trying the different orientations.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 6:44PM
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@greenhaven, You continue to be a marvel of innovation and American ingenuity. I feel like I am right there with you, rooting you on. Between you and my nephew's college acceptance news (he's headed to NYU), it has been a fun day.

Keep us posted. The colors you have selected are very soothing.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 8:35PM
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Soothing? EXCELLENT! That is just what I was going for! Serene with I am more convinced than ever that I made the right decision turning down the tile. Thanks.

CEFreeman, I forgot to follow up on something- you could do the hood yourself if you unclip the collar before loosening the screws. My problem was the dang thing was already dangling when I discovered my error. Oh, and you and DH would get along. He almost never eats baked cookies anymore.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 9:05PM
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Hey you're welcome Lori and Christine. I think the first two is the GE Space saver Christine said. Its one of the fire larger microwaves that fit well on a shelf because it isn't as deep. I will probably use one of these examples when we build our house in a few years.

Christine-my microwave is low now too and I'm 4'11. It should be higher, and I felt so bad when I hosted Thanksgiving last year and all of DH's family had to bend way down to heat up their leftovers for dinner. They are super tall maybe 6'5 and above. I'll get it higher eventually.

Greenhaven, I'm sort of kind of handy, but DH is very handy. We moved to DHs family farm late last summer, and I so want to learn more. We will build in a few years, and we will do all of the finishing work because that stuff I can do. I am going to learn how to weld though. DHs uncle is pretty handy with it, and my grandpa and dad had a metal fabrication business in the house I grew up in. I love fire so maybe that's part of it. :)

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 9:24PM
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I am missing something in my understanding of microwaves. When I look at AJMadison for spacemaker, I get over-the-range results. Also I notice there's "countertop" and then there's "over the counter" which gives only a couple of results. That's why I was trying to figure out which models were in the photos posted above. Guess I'll have to do more detective work. (Sorry for the hijack, greenhaven-- every week, a new obsession...)

Here is a link that might be useful: Spacemaker MWs

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 9:53PM
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"every week, a new obsession..."

Trust me...I get it. You are among friends, here. :o)

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 10:04PM
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Wow, this is coming along nicely and I'm so incredibly impressed.

What about turning the island and then adding another bank of drawers so that the island is actually "L" shaped, with the long side being parallel to the frig/sink side. That way you gain even more cupboard and counter space, widen the walkway to the frig, and still somewhat block the view of the frig from the front door while keeping that walkway open to the stove.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 11:07PM
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Lori try looking by microwave depth instead of by type. That is how I found my last microwave which is an Oster. It's about 13.5" deep (from front of door to very back with 'guts' in the back) and is plenty large for a family. It has a turntable and has handy 'quick pick' buttons. I like it. I guess it depends on what you're looking for in a microwave. If you want something to warm up a beverage or defrost a family size package of hamburger then check this one out. It's $79.00 on Amazon.

Yes sorry Greenhaven about hijacking. I found microwaves frustrating when I was looking because it seems like they are meant to fail within a few years now. It's very sad.

Here is a link that might be useful: Oster 0.9 cuft microwave

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 11:09PM
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You give me hope for my own kitchen face lift!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 12:18AM
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Just out of curiosity, where do you live?
I've got some base cabinets I'm not going to use.
A 3-drawer B12, a 1-drawer 2-door B30, and a bunch more upper cabinets I've stuck in my barn. Doors to match would be up to you, but if they'd work for you or your island, you're welcome to them.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 2:14PM
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Might you be able to use those 12" drawers you pulled out in the island?

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 5:04PM
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CEFreeman, I am in SW Michigan. Very generous offer, thank you! I think I am going to be okay with the island as it is. I might try that 12 inch base there, good idea ajsmama. I think longer will encroach on the hallway but I will have to get off the couch and see, lol.

Not any progress to report today, spent most of it with kids and grandson. I did decide on the darker gray, and painted a beadboard sample the wall color. No deciding on that one until counters come. It might need to be a shade darker.

Oh I guess I did try out the diagonal orientation of the island last night. Not as in love with it as I was. Trying the straight on orientation tonight and tomorrow.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 7:25PM
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I grew up in Mason, and graduated from Western. Small world, huh?

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 12:11AM
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You know, it really IS a small world anymore. We are brand-spankin'-new to Michigan, moved from Illinois. I think we will like it.

Another slow-ish day for “wow” factor progress, but some important steps were taken to pave the way for upper cabinet installation.

First, however, DH and I attempted to get the island wired for electrical. There was a floppy outlet hanging out the side of it but it was not hooked up to power at all. So we removed that and the conduit attached to the box, and installed one of these:

(image courtesy of since I forgot to get one of ours)

The flange on the top back of the box has a matching one on the bottom back but opposite side of the box. The box gets set into the wall with the flanges flipped down, and as you tighten the screws it pops the flanges up and tightens them against the back of the drywall so they do not have to be attached to studs.

The box we took out was smaller than the new one, so DH enlarged the opening with his uber-cool jigsaw. (I never even knew he had this! I thought we still had our crappy little Black&Decker!)

Box fits! BUT, because I am going to face the island with panelized beadboard we cannot tighten it in until that is installed. So on to the next mini-project.

In addition to having to run electrical to the new stove hood location we decided to add another outlet while we had the wall opened up. We also drilled a hole in the stud between where the junction box was and where the wire needed to end up.

With the intention of using another flip-up outlet box we marked a box-sized shape on the wall that was the same height as the existing outlets and below the junction box. (At this point DH was teaching me as I went and I did the work myself.) Drilled a pilot hole for the hacksaw and cut the opening after confirming I would not be sawing into any existing wires. Placed the box, tightened the screws, voila! New box!

Then we ran a length of wire from the junction box to outlet box but did not connect them yet. We need two GFCI outlets to go in the boxes we placed before we can connect the wires so we folded them back out of the way for the time being.

While DH napped before starting our electrical work I primed the two base cabinets in preparation for painting since there was an increasing likelihood of dropping something snasty on the bare wood.

I used a water-based acrylic primer and was shocked at how much it raised the grain on the raw oak. I knew pine and other softwoods were prone to this, but the oak surprised me.

Now I am going to have to sand the drawer fronts and door stiles again and re-prime. I will be ready for the bare wood uppers, though, and will use a conditioner before priming or simply a heavy water application that will raise the grain, then sand again but before I prime.

Tomorrow will be finishing the electrical and maybe even getting the upper cabinets in. It will be nice to get my cra….err…stuff off the table and back into cabinets.

BTW, DH says he is actually really enjoying this project because of the nature of its piece-meal progress. He is being a real sport and I love working with and learning from him.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 6:33PM
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A shellac-based primer won't raise the grain like water-based. Or since you already have the primer, just pick up some Sealcoat dewaxed shellac and put a thinned (with alcohol) coat of that on as a "conditioner" before priming.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 7:30PM
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ajsmama, thanks so much for that golden nugget! I will absolutely do that.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 8:21PM
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The good thing about the shellac (has to be dewaxed) is that it will stick to anything and anything sticks to it. So you can clean your old stained oak cabinets with mineral spirits to get any grease/dirt off, brush on a coat of the shellac, and prime right over it with no worries whether the original finish was poly or lacquer and if the new paint will stick to it.

Now, what type of acrylic primer did you use? If it has stearates it it, you might want to put another coat on and sand (then follow up with mineral spirits to get the dust off), b/c the stearates in it will help fill the grain in the oak (I'm assuming you won't hae much grain showing through on the original cabinets with the original finish and the shellac on there).

General Finishes makes a good waterborne acrylic sanding sealer for very big pores/grain. You might even have to use a grain filler on the new cabinets, don't know how heavy the grain is. You can ask for more help on Paint forum.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 10:25AM
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Thanks again, ajsmama!

I have no progress to report at all, except that I made it to HD to pick up the things we needed to do the next steps.

Fought a losing battle this morning with some Krispy Kremes I ate last night. I am 43. I should know better by now. :o(

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 9:10PM
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One of my favorite things to do after being out of town is catch up on GW! Just caught up on your project, and am jumping on the bandwagon to watch your progress - pass the cookie dough, please!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 10:13PM
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"Know better what?" she asked, licking her cookie dough spoon. "Oh! know I should have some Krispy Creams, too!?"

She asked, at 55 years old.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 11:17PM
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Just curious - did you ever consider making your island into a pensinsula? The location and empty space to the left of your sink seems like it is meant to be connected. I, too, would struggle with your layout and what is the lesser evil as your cooktop area is quite cramped. I marvel at your ability and energy to move cabinets around as you sift though the various options. Something I could easily do with furniture; never with kitchen cabinets. Most of us get one chance to see out design transformed to reality. Baring the peninsula,, I also would be in the turn the island and put in a cabinet depth refrigerator camp.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 2:29AM
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Thanks, valinsv!

Yes, I did consider a peninsula. I think it was about the first layout I worked up on the virtual designer. A lot more storage but a very confined feel and it would still be soooo far away from the stove. Plus, seating there would be tricky with the sliders right there.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 6:31AM
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I think we've been brainwashed into thinking we cannot move kitchen cabinets. All it takes is a very deep breath and a screw gun.

I think I'm on the 6th or 7th incarnation of the kitchen, dining room, MBR and Laundry cabinets. All, floor to ceiling in some shape or form!

When I find something of a better quality, I swap it out. The shape or size I wanted?
Something in my beloved beaded inset?
out with the old and in with the new.
Granted, once I find what I in size and quality, I stop keeping any eyes out for that size.
But beaded inset trumps everything. If it's made well, (i.e. not particle board) and the right size? Well, swaps happen. :)

I also find cabinets very easy to rearrange, in that they stack so well on each other. Not like holding a picture against the wall while someone else says, "A little to the left. Little more, No! Too much, down now..."

I just had to sit down and count the number cabinets I've moved around in 6 years. I know in the kitchen alone, I've changed out the entire cabinet system 3.5 times.
MBR = 25
Laundry = 8
Kitchen = 13 (long wall)
Kitchen = 11 (sink side)
Credenza = 6
Dining Room = 9

My point in this, to which Missy Greenhaven can attest, is not to be afraid to unscrew things and give 'em a trial run. I don't think cabinet installers would have the time or patience (without hefty "design" fees) to move 'em around for us! But sometimes, you just gotta SEE!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 11:18AM
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RNmomof2 zone 5

I have been reading with interest this thread. Way to go girl! I am impressed with your hard work figuring out what you want. We did a mini-makeover 9 years ago and our kitchen is very close to what you are planning.

We went from the basic small kitchen window to what you know see. I love it and it makes life in the kitchen so much better. We pulled the sink forward and moved the frig down towards the slider. We also removed the soffit and put up crown. Last year we got a counter depth fridge. Newer frigs are so much deeper than the 20 years old one we replaced. The counter depth makes it feels like the frig doesn;t dominate the kitchen.

Out island is turned how many have thought yours should be. We are tall so may have larger walk ways than others. Between the stove and the island it is nearly 49 inches and 44 from the dishwasher to the island.

Keep up the good work and just ask if you would like another view or dimensions, etc.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 11:55AM
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CEFreeman is absolutely right; some things may seem so hard or difficult, but only because we lack a little knowledge or experience or confidence...or a combo of all three.

rnmomof2, your kitchen looks amazing! If you have a "before" pic I would love to see it. As it is, I am pretty sure you have more walls space on your sink side; you have additional cabinets and room to spare, I am jealous! But I will make my kitchen the best kitchen it can be without a complete overhaul.

I would LOVE to have 44" from the DW/sink. I have a hallway, so no-can-do. :o(

I am currently taking a break, researching how to flatten curved plywood. My beadboard veneer is more than a little warped, maybe too much so to nail to the island.

So far today I have done a little electrical, screwed down the island, installed two sides of beadboard to the island and primed those sides. Oh, and I re-sanded my cabinets with the raised grain. Trying to make up for lost time!

My delivery window for the new fridge today is fast approaching. I hope it fits the space better, as we expect it to.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 12:14PM
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Wow what a day! After being sick-ish yesterday and not doing much over the weekend I feel like I got a lot accomplished. Of course my kitchen and dining room (and living room and bathrooms, truth be told,) look like a bomb went off.

I pulled some electrical wires this morning, first thing. I got them placed, stripped, wire-nutted together…then realized I had forgotten to run the stove hood wire through the side of the box. Then I wasn’t sure if I needed a clippy collar to secure them so I decided to wait for DH to come home.

While I waited for him I cut beadboard panels for the island. One 4x8 sheet gave me all three panels plus enough for some backsplash, too. The guy at HD was kind enough to make two cuts for me, so the panel for the back side just popped right on, no additional cutting! The jigsaw with a cutting blade for metal did a fine job, since the paneling is so thin. Barely any chipping, and with a quality machine it was easy to control.

Once the beadboard was on I was free to attach the electrical box on the island; we will likely deal with the electrical downstairs tomorrow. We will have to route the aforementioned live wire into a junction box and run another wire from it up through the floor and island to the box. It will be AWEsome to have power on the island!

The fridge was scheduled to be delivered between 12:30 and 2:30, and they were here promptly at 12:30. 20 minutes later the thing was in the house, plugged in a cooling away. What a difference a few niches of width can make. When DH got home he was so excited for his icemaker and water in the door that he got that all up and running before we moved to electrical.

While waiting for DH to come home I decided to prime and first-coat the beadboard on the island. I want to be sure the darker gray is the one I will use, although the sample is a flat finish paint, and things will be very different once the countertop comes in. I am going to paint the front side, too, but will do so when I am ready to dismantle the doors to lightly sand and use a good primer.

I gave the base cabs a second sanding to knock down that raised grain, and it worked a lot better than I thought. I lightly re-primed, and then added a first-coat to those, as well. I love the color in the day time! The fluorescent lights at night wash the color out but I can probably live with that. I have to replace the bulbs, so maybe I will get something warmer.

Fixing the wiring and adding in the outlet was easy, but DH coached me through it to make sure it was done right. Now we have another GFCI outlet installed by the stove, a junction box where the old hood used to be, and a power line run to where the new hood will be. That line is all energized and the GFCI outlet is working correctly, but the ends for the hood are all taped up for temporary safety.

Last, but certainly not the least, we got the upper cabs on the walls! Wahoo! And I am only a little embarrassed to admit we had our very own mini-show of Renovation Realities when it came time to hit studs with the screws that hold the cabs to the wall.

I took such pains to mark the old screw holes and use the level to draw a line below the level of the cab so we could see where it was. It took three misses to realize I had marked the wrong holes.


Fortunately the first one was the biggest one, and once it was up the others went up with ease. I am so excited!
I am also exhausted. It is nearly 9 p.m. here and I am thinking about bed a full two hours before I usually turn in. I am okay with that because tomorrow I get to put things away in my new cabinets! Yay!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 8:53PM
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It looks fantastic! What an amazing difference in your layout - I can't believe how much you got done in one day! Love the silhouette of your dog looking all philosophical in the middle of it all.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 9:05PM
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After reading everything you did today, I want to lay down. It's just amazing how fast you're moving on this kitchen. Wish we could be there in person to give you a well deserved round of applause.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 12:21AM
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Yay! You two are doing great!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 12:37AM
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Thank you all for your encouragement!! This will not be a showcase kitchen but I will be so much happier in this space.

Making progress is a lot easier with no kids at home and for the first time in several years, no outside job.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 5:53AM
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I am loving reading your day-by-day progress. It is a fascinating read!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 8:03AM
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Ugh! Today is the first day I am truly sore. My shoulders are VERY tight, especially the one with which I have been battling frozen shoulder for a year. My back is twinge-y. My feet ache. I am old. :o(

I am glad people are enjoying this, though, and am happy to share my experiences.

Not a ton on the agenda today, definitely some clean up and sort out. Swap the fridge contents, stock the bigger cabinets, clean UP, man!

If I feel so inspired I will start priming and painting the rest of the cabs. Definitely the uppers will get conditioned before I prime and paint.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 9:04AM
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I can't believe how quickly this is coming together for you!

Where does your range hood vent?

Putting things away was what I was most looking forward to in my kitchen. Even though I had a plan for where everything would go, it still turned out to be a lot of work! At least you didn't have to tear all the cabinets out.

I'm dealing with frozen shoulder - for the third time (and second arm). I can't see how you're getting all this done without full range of motion! I was impressed before - now I'm stunned.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 3:59PM
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My range hood will be a self-ventilating one. I ordered a new ultra-quiet one with grease trap and carbon filter. In my "maybe someday" kitchen it will be fully ventilated to the outside.

annkh, my shoulder is much better than it was even a few months ago. This time last year it was virtually useless, practically just hanging in it's socket. Bad PT put me in a world of worse hurt. I am probably back to 80% or so range of motion and am 95% pain-free. I am truly sorry about your shoulder(s.) I know it is common to get whammied in both shoulders after having to compensate for one bum one. But a third go-round? That sucks. :o(

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 5:12PM
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Greenhaven, I don't know, I think you will have a showcase kitchen for sure. I think you've done an amazing job within a modest budget, which is very impressive to me. I love this thread - better than anything on HGTV!!!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 5:36PM
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Fantastic job!!! :) You are truly amazing!!!

Love the dog!!! :)

Just want to add the I really do love my microwave-hood over the stove .... just works so well in my very small kitchen ....

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 5:49PM
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I want to thank you all again for your support and encouragement. Although this is not a difficult job and piecemeal completion can be an advantage, the dragging-out factor is still wearying. Truth be told if we just did this and nothing else we could have had this done in a week, barring the countertop timeframe. I cannot imagine how bad it is for those of you undergoing full renos! I doff my hat to you all....

As expected it was not much a day, progress-wise. I was exhausted when I got up, and hurting a little so I took it easy.

Here are a few things I DID do:
I painted primer on an already-finished drawer front so that tomorrow I can gauge the adhesion factor without sanding. It does not look promising that I will be able to skip that step.

I also started cleaning up and putting things away in cabinets, and was feeling frustrated about my microwave. I have pretty much decided that I will find or build or commission a cabinet/hutch on which my microwave and five gallon fish tank can hang out together. It is slightly outside the “kitchen” but still in proximity. I still have not returned the door/drawer base I am not using in the kitchen, so I brought out my huge cutting board, laid it across the top temporarily and moved the microwave off my counter.

The only thing is that I had to relocate my Treasure Table. The table itself is an antique wall safe given to me by my very best friend back in Illinois, and on the table are some things to me that are very cool or very special. No big deal, I guess, I swung the whole table around onto the other side of the wall, which is in the living room. When I get a proper unit in that space (I think it needs some height anyway?) the crappy little “desk” holding my Izzy Fish and photos and whatnot that have not found a permanent place yet will all get moved over.

It was a huge relief to get my table cleared, the garbage out and tools stashed (even temporarily.) A mental break can be a precious thing!

One mishap today, though, turned into a slightly larger deal…and might not yet be over. The water line that connects to the new fridge leaked, and I did not discover it until after lunch. I took the dogs downstairs to their crates and was greeted with a sizeable lake with water dripping from at least three joists. Fortunately I knew exactly where to turn off the water supply- back at that little brass gate valve.

The puddle did not look that big back in the kitchen; I pulled the fridge out and mopped up the water. When DH got home I informed him of the problem and he got it fixed right up. However, about an hour later I noticed the laminate flooring near the fridge has started to buckle and delaminate. It is obvious that a lot more water than we could see ran under the flooring a ways before it found its way to the basement. The full extent of the damage is probably yet to be seen. As of right now it is ugly but liveable.

Let’s hope it does not get any worse.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 8:54PM
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That's a shame about the leak, let's hope it's not real bad. I have to say this is the most interesting thread I've read on my many years here. Your knowledge and got get 'em attitude is amazing and a source of inspiration. It's wonderful to see the progress you've made in such a short time. Applause to you!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 12:59AM
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Give the laminate a little time to dry may be okay. We had a leak on our laminate and it dried out fine. Took a few days to look normal though.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 1:11AM
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Probably not an exciting day by anybody’s standards but my own, but I am very happy with the way things went.

The very first thing I did was scrape off all the ugly border, but only in the kitchen area. I peeled the plastic-ky facing off, then it was a simple matter to gently press a wet sponge against the paper backing still stuck to the wall. It did not take much water to loosen the adhesive and allow me to use my spatu….uh….scraper….to scrape the wet paper off the wall.

The final step was to wash thoroughly with water, making sure there was no adhesive left on the wall. I am probably going to dress up the soffit, but have not decided how and will just paint it, for now. Time-wise it will be virtually nothing.

The next thing I did was to condition the bare upper cabinet boxes with water. This raised the grain and allowed me to finish my sanding before priming. Worked a real treat, too!

I brushed Glidden Gripper onto the box frames, but took all doors off the uppers and took the barewood ones to the garage where I gave them two thin coats of Kilz primer. I used a spray can, and it is amazing, the difference in finish! It took only a light sanding to finish them off prior to painting, and I do mean light; like a skim of sanding! I also did the two end panel facings that will cover the open ends of the two larger uppers.

I took down all the pre-finished upper doors and gave them a good scrubbing with soap and water. I definitely have to sand them, and was not quite ready to start that today.

The last thing I did was to start painting the barewood doors, I am so excited! The color looks great, the finish perfect. I purposely allowed grain to show through, because I love the character and texture it lends the kitchen. I am always so impressed with how easy it is to paint over a good coat of primer.

So three upper doors got a first coat, as did the end panels. They are drying as I type this, and I will second coat them tomorrow, as well as the lower cabs. I will probably also start sanding down the pre-finished doors tomorrow.

I feel like I have conquered one mental battle by overcoming my reticence to sand the pre-finished cabs. I think that will be way less trouble than I thought!

The real mental battle left is that cabinet to the left of the stove. I have to trim down the bottom to line it up with the existing cabinet, but the thing is that it is only off by maybe a saw-blade's width and that is very, very hard to cut. I am putting it off until the last possible moment! It is, by far, the most intimidating thing I will face in the whole project.

Unfortunately my laminate does not look like it will recover. I am not sure DH noticed, but I will point it out and see if he doesn’t just want to do the whole kitchen with tile or vinyl now or wait it out until we can do all the floors.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 7:56PM
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RNmomof2 zone 5

Would it be easier to try and sand it off? Put a jig to run a sander down to the desired depth? Perhaps it sounds easier in my head that it would be to do!

Are you sure that others would notice a difference? Perhaps leaving well enough alone would be fine? When they are all the same color and everything is finished you might be the only one to notice.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 9:01PM
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rnmomof2, that is exactly what I was thinking! DH thinks that is even riskier because it can be harder to control the sander. But if I mark a line and just use a coarse-grit sandpaper and a palm sander (vs a belt sander) it probably won't be too aggressive.

The problem with it being just that much off is that my cabinets really need to be level to each other, too, so that my new countertops will lay right and be properly supported. I wouldn't be so concerned with laminate, but I have quartz coming.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 9:05PM
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So the surface is coming up? Can you use a small paint brush and a bit of glue, or even a low heat gun and some heavy books?

My floor has a slight split between two boards, but the leak was from under the floor. (Hubby drove a finishing nail tip for the trim into the water line, where the water line came into the house by the front door.) The nail tip started to rust, it shrunk and viola...leak and wet subfloor that the laminate started soaking up. I remember a bit of fluttering at the seam too, but it's not there now. I didn't do anything...

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 11:58PM
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Too bad about the flooring, greenhaven. Everything else is coming along so beautifully - I hate to see a setback, especially a potentially expensive one.

I would hate to see you put in flooring you didn't love at this point, if it's not in the remodel budget.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 2:08AM
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Try a coolish iron with pressure to iron the floor back down. Laminate (hard layer) is made under PRESSURE and heat, and the particle board backing here has gotten soaked and swelled, and needs PRESSURE and HEAT to push it back to its original dimensions or it will dry fluffy. This is why I won't touch laminate floors with particle board bases with a ten foot pole, they are unforgiving if water penetrates them!

On the sliver trim: sometimes when faced with something like this I will make up a rig with a straight edge and tight clamps and run the saw along the straight edge. Trying to sand it or hand plane it will make a non-straight line.

Here is a link that might be useful:

This post was edited by beautybutdebtfree on Fri, Apr 4, 14 at 7:49

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 7:46AM
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@terri_pacnw, it is way beyond glue, unfortunately.

@beautybutdebtfree, I can try it, but I am pretty sure it is already dried this way. I still have nothing to lose by trying!

The jig set-up is my only other choice, I think. I am still not sure there is enough to take off even using such a jig. I did consider buying and fitting the thinnest sheet of luan or plywood I could find and cutting the cabinet that much deeper. Then the luan would, essentially be a shim and I have more room to make the cut.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 8:38AM
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So sorry about the floor. If you're not able to fix the one or two pieces (its hard to tell in the pic what is really damaged) could you move them around maybe in the corner or under the cabinet toe kick if they are just a little curled?

I think I remember you said your floor was a little older so even if you could find it again it may not be the same color because of fading. You may be able to find a package of some new stuff that is close and put that stuff under a toe kick so its partially hidden. If that's a little ghetto then ignore me. ;)

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 9:48AM
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IowaCommute, I have already suggested more ghetto-like things than that, lol! I suggested to DH that we just fill the island hole with plywood and put a rug over it. That did NOT fly, lol.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 11:49AM
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Ghetto? Did someone say, "Ghetto!"
Reminding you I worked at the National Harbor in Oxen Hill, MD, where all the kids I worked with also originated.
I can tell you this 55 year old yoga teacher can twerk better than someone of the yungins. Learned it there.

Other than that tidbit, I have absolutely nothing of value to offer. Going thrifting in a minute.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 12:09PM
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Who hooked up the water line? If it was the delivery guys, they'd be responsible for replacing the damaged floor.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 12:11PM
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CEFreeman, 1. I did not know that, cool! 2. I assure you I meant the term in only the most non-malicious way possible. I could just as easily have said "hill-billy" and not meant it with any more or less malice. and 3. I am not a fan of twerking but I might provide extra cookie dough to see you do that. ;o)

may_flowers, it was DH. It was not leaking two hours after hook-up when we pushed the fridge back against the wall. I can only surmise that the line got catty-wampus when we pushed it back and un-sealed the connection.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 12:23PM
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I grew up in the ghetto and now live on a farm next to Amish so go figure. Sometimes I come up with ideas and DH looks at me like I have two heads. Ah. I guess you can take the girl out of the ghetto but not the ghetto out of the girl. I also spent my summer in the Missouri Ozarks with my grandparents and still have family in Appalachia. Ah. So it runs deep.

Greenhaven I hope you get the flooring resolved okay. If you have to replace it maybe you will stumble upon a huge sale especially since its warming up and places are running big sales for home improvement right now. If you're near a Habitat for Humanity Restore they may also have some. There was one by our last house that was filled to the brim with building supplies and home fixtures some used some new but all were amazing prices.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 12:35PM
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No need to get all PC on this outspoken, direct, sometimes abrupt poster. If someone takes offense to that term, like Hillbilly, perhaps it's hitting too close to home.

I had to prevent them from filming me with their fones. We all laughed so hard it was difficult to go back to work with even a semblance of a straight face.

I'm sorry about the floors, too. With all the progress you've made, I'm surprised there haven't been more setbacks. But this is a biggie to fix!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 12:35PM
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CEFreeman, no worries! I couldn't tell if you were taking offense at the term and do not mean at all to offend anybody here. You all have been so generous with your thoughts and encouragement.

IowaCommute, There are several HfH ReStores near here, I really should stop in for funsies. Plus, I would love to score some cheap cabs for my laundry room.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 12:56PM
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Greenhaven: if it helps, I had to cut off 1/8" (the width of the blade) off a piece of plywood last night and used a guide exactly like the one in the link. It was actually quite easy. You allow for the width of the plate at the bottom of the saw, which is what actually touches the guide, so you're not running right on the edge. Granted, mine was plywood, which is easier to manage than a cabinet. But I still think that's the best solution. I can't imagine you getting a level flat surface by sanding.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 3:35PM
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I really wouldn't worry about cutting down your cabinets. I've done more than a few. Toe kicks, the backs, and the face frame on the sides.

I don't know which way you're cutting (have to read back), but if it's the depth, make sure to put it face up and cut across the top (or bottom) first. Then you have cut marks on the sides of the cabinet to reference and don't have to match them up. That usually ends badly for me. But if my first cut goes through not only the top and some of the sides? You'd think a grown-up did it.

Don't forget your blade is 1/8" thick, so decide which side you're cutting on, or if you're cutting on the line, which is way harder for me. Then set where your guide is supposed to be against your saw. Clamp that baby down, check it again, and saw away!

I'm actually eyeing a 12" cabinet I'm stacking, and veneering the sides, so it looks like one cabinet on the end. I'd have to trim about that much, 1/8" off the face frame to make it look (in my eyes) perfect.

Do what you always do. Just jump on in.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 3:59PM
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I had the same thing happen with laminate in my other house, GH. I was able to get it to lay back down almost perfectly by setting my biggest, heaviest cast iron pot on it overnight. I warmed it in the oven first, but not hot enough to scotch the floor, and put a kitchen towel underneath. I may have even stacked other pots on top to increase the weight. It's worth a try!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 11:46AM
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One of the sure-fire ways of getting something to chip and look antique is to leave it in the yard for, oh, say, a year?

However, the laminate on these actual antique doors separated. Thank goodness old door laminate is as much as 1/8" thick, vs. today's crap. I expected this to lift..

So at the moment, I have 3 doors on saw horses in my living room, MBR, and GR.
I'm gluing the laminate back down by stacking bricks along the edges of the laminate, then a board across them, then various heavy things on top. Buckets of drywall mud (40lbs), cans of paint (heavy), gallons of bleach, etc. It's working perfectly. Oh, along the edges of the door, I just put a board across it and clamp those edges down. Good as new!

My point in this all about me & laminate, is that the pot might not be a bad idea. Then put a bucket of drywall mud on it.

Maybe even wet it a little and force some glue into the MDF fibers?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 12:07PM
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You guys are such awesome cheerleaders! I will try some the laminate repair techniques today, and will have to brainstorm adjusting the saw jig to work for the bottom of the cabinet. There will not be anything for a regular wood clamp to attach to, so I would have to use something like a ratchet strap around the whole cabinet (have my doubts about that getting tight enough not to move) or I am not averse to actually screwing down the guide board since it is the bottom of the cabinet. i would just have to use thin screws and pre-drill pilot holes to avoid splitting the wood.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 12:15PM
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Wow! Sit on my tookas for the weekend and I get dropped to page four. Slacker!

Did not do much over the weekend, as I had a houseful of "kids" this weekend and went visiting, too. It was definitely a challenge to work in my kitchen at this stage.

I did not take any pictures today, but what I did (finished doing, really,) was put first and second paint coats on my stove-wall face frames so I can get my cabinet doors back up, which is also going to get done today as soon as I get off this computer, lol! The painted frames and doors look amazing. I have yet to sand the pre-finished doors, but I am going to get out the palm sander and do them en masse all at once, to hopefully consolidate the mess and noise into a smaller frame.

The laminate floor is toast. The pressed wood beneath the laminate has swelled all up and did not press back down and is now dried that way. It is not too horrendous, and we will not have to wait too long for all new floors, I think.

Tomorrow I pick up a cabinet hardware installation template and will start doing handles. Oh, and I simply MUST tackle that base cab that needs a shave. I am still having anxiety about it, as the countertop guys come to template Thursday or Friday. I should probably find out which day, lol.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 4:21PM
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So it was back to work today, sort of. I invited my super-smart sister-in-law out to take a look at what I had going and help me figure out WHY I was feeling unhappy about my color choices. We went to the tile store so we could look at tiles for the “tile rug” and for ha-has I showed her the tile and accent that I had picked out, loved, and then changed my mind about.

Well, she loved it, thought it was entirely appropriate, and made the brilliant observation that the 12x12’s that came in the tile style and color would be a perfect, cohesive fit for the floor! Brilliant! And it helped me figure out why I was feeling the color choices; it was feeling just the wrong side of boring from serene.

We brought a beadboard piece painted with the cabinet color and it is amazing, like the two were made for each other. I voiced my concerns that the counters would cease to be the hero, and she said (I love this woman!) “That tile is the perfect supporting actor for the star of the kitchen.” Brava, sister…brava…

Today was the day I simply HAD to address fitting that base cabinet, since the fabricators are coming to template Thursday or Friday. CEFreeman said, “Just jump in, like you always do! You can do it!”

So I did.

Very first thing first, I had to empty the cabinet. The drawer had become a convenient place for tools to hang out, and the bottom already had pots and pans in I, so that got emptied and the drawer pulled out.

It was a slow, careful trip down the basement stairs, but I did it. Conveniently I had a box of saddle blankets randomly hanging out down there, so I laid one down to keep the cabinet off the concrete. Turns out I didn’t have to turn the cab on its painted front, but that’s alright.

I assembled the tools I would need, a straight-edge, a pencil and measuring tape. Not pictured is the circular saw. I did have to use the worklight as an extension cord, because one of the major drawbacks of starting this so close to move-n time is that I cannot find half the crap I need to use for this. Thus spatulas become scrapers, pliers become hammers, worklights become extension cords. It’s a good life.

So, I had determined up stairs that the cabinet was going to have to be reduced in height by 1/8 of an inch to match its neighbor, so I marked 1/8 from the bottom edge all the way up and connected the dots with the straight-edge. I measured off from the 2-inch line because small increments at the end of the tape are hard to read due to the metal hook on the end.

No cleat to use as a guide board, that would not have worked anyway because the cut across the front is the toe-kick, which also made cutting in one direction impossible because the housing of the saw would hit the bottom of the face frame. If I had figured this out ahead of time I would have made ALL the cuts from the same side of the cabinet. As it was I had to make a mad guess and go on a wing and prayer.

It got done. Not a pretty job, but done. Thankfully I had a palm sander and 100 grit sandpaper handy and took down the high spots. I had some other flubs, but there was not much I could do about it at that point and was desperately hoping shims were going to solve any problems upstairs.

I recruited DH to help me carry it back upstairs, and lo and behold, a pretty good fit even before shimming! I am very happy with the way things went, and with minimal shimming we will have a serviceable base cabinet. It still needs a wee bit of shim in the back but I will take care of that the night before the fabricators come so I can finish it with the countertop off.

On a separate note, I hung some upper doors yesterday. I am sooo not done with the rest of them, but I just needed to see some solid surface up there! I am immensely pleased with the way the painting has gone so far and love the cab color. This photo is not accurate n color at all, but you can see how pretty they look on the cabinets!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 9:27PM
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Yeah, so happy it worked out for you. One hurdle down.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 2:06AM
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I have hit the boring and tedious part of this reno…sanding and painting. Blah. But it has to be done, so I got up and started stripping the rest of the kitchen of its drawer fronts and cabinet doors.

I was a little nervous about the false front on the sink base, as I just could not get a good look under there and could also not get a good grab on what I thought was the screws holding it on. Then, a revelation! There are permanent pegs on the cabinet and clips on the front that just snap the thing in place. A couple well-placed whacks with the blunt end of my screwdriver popped it right off.

Even the lazy susan doors came off!

I am a little nervous to work on those, though, since it appears they not only screwed into the LS shelves but are glued to each other via a 1x1. Not the end of the world if they crack apart but not a fix I am wanting to add to the mix right now.

Then the sanding. And sanding, and sanding and…sanding! Hit everything once with 100 grit sandpaper on my orbital palm sander, and wipe or washed off the dust and let them dry. I will do the fine-tuning sanding once they are completely dry. At least it was a beautiful Spring day and I could do them outside!

I also sanded and wiped down the remaining face frames for the rest of the cabinets.

I will admit, I am losing motivation and getting real sick of having my kitchen a wreck. It was alright at first, an inconvenience but “charming.” Now it can all just go away, lol!!! I am just powering through at this point.

The worst part of DIY is that for every minute I spend working on the kitchen there is a minute I am not doing my other chores, like cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, etc. It is a tough balance.

The installers come tomorrow to measure for the countertops.

Tonight I sit at the computer with a well-deserved adult beverage.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 9:48PM
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An uggy day today. DH and I made the decision to postpone our short trip to Florida to see family because we are both just so overloaded with things to do. He has several important projects he cannot afford to leave, and now that the weather is conducive I really need to get fences and shelter up so I can bring my horse home and not pay another month’s board. Plus, the kitchen stuff, and house stuff, and so much unpacking to do, blah, blah, blah.

Anyway, was felling kind of bummed about telling mom we weren’t coming, so I pouted a bit before getting motivated again to finish my priming so I can paint and hang doors.

This morning the installers came and measured for my engineered quartz countertop. This is Trav setting up his laser measure. He gave me permission for this. :o)

He put these dooflinkies at the end of each run between appliances and walls, and one at the edge of the sink. The laser uses these to transmit highly accurate length measurement. Next he pointed the laser at recurring points above the existing backsplash and on the wall to map out accurate depth measurements. It was pretty cool, the technology!

Sorry for the cruddy cell phone pictures, I left my camera plugged into the computer, which drained the battery.

He answered a lot of questions for me, and gave me what I feel are accurate expectations for installation and performance for the product; it was very helpful to have done my reading here at GW and be able to gauge real info from BS.

He was in and out in a half-hour and said to expect about two hours for installation on the 24th.

This evening I finished priming all doors and drawer fronts except the LS fronts. I want to take my time and not crack those apart in-process.

I will likely continue to do some painting, would be nice to have all doors and drawers back on by the end of the weekend.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 8:45PM
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Your project is looking real nice. You've put so much work into it. My hat is off to you. It looked so much better in the earlier photos of the wall where you took the border down, really opened up the area above the cabs. I'm amazed at your energy and expertise. Keep up the good work, and thanks for all the photos to keep us in the loop. Congratulation on a job well done!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 9:00PM
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Sorry you are overwhelmed right now, but you are doing a great job! Thanks for the pics of the templating process - very cool!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 10:11PM
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GH. You are amazing and so deserving of an adult beverage. We're rooting for you and supporting you all the way!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 11:36PM
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From one Navy wife to another, you rock girl! Totally in awe of your creativity and talent. Don't forget to start a new thread soon....we need to know how the story ends!!!!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 8:43AM
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Oh you guys are too funny! I am doing nothing that cannot be done by anyone else who has a true desire to do it and the ability to Google the right info. ;)

MaggieQ, how did you know I was a (former) Navy wife? What is this black magic you possess? lol Oh, and thanks for suggesting that this will, indeed, end someday...

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 9:02AM
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Thanks for posting even when you are bummed, overwhelmed, not motivated, sick of dust, disarray and a non-functioning kitchen.
We are all cheering you on!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 5:40PM
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How exciting to have new counters coming :) . I really like how your cabinet fronts are turning out.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 6:16PM
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You spilled the beans earlier about DH being in the Navy!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 7:53PM
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Ha ha, I did? It seems so long ago I started this already...a lifetime, no black magic, eh? Darn.

Nothing too exciting today, and certainly nothing photo-worthy. Lots of painting and finished priming the face frames of the remaining cabinets.

Made two significant blunders today; while neither is devastating they are both foolish.

The first is that I forgot two of the drawer fronts were going in the island…which is getting painted a different color. Not tooo big a deal, but if I stick with the grey I have to paint over them and then I will have four coats of paint and a coat of primer…which gets to be looking sort of…marginal…

The second is that after weeks of faithfully washing brushes when needed or wrapping tightly in plastic wrap between coats I finally forgot and left my 2 ½ inch sash brush out all afternoon. Again, not the end of the world but I did pay double what I usually spend on brushes so I could get a good, quality finish. Fantastic brushes, beautiful, fine, soft bristle-ends for minimal brush marks. Now it is good for only the most plebian of tasks.

My goal of getting the doors and drawers back on by the weekend is entirely within reach, and for that I am grateful. Tomorrow I need to order the tile for my backsplash and find a reputable installer. As eager as I am to try my hand at tiling I do NOT want to start in the kitchen with expensive tile I adore.

I also have yet to finish wiring the island for power, and when I confessed to DH that I would, in fact, like to have another outlet to the right of the stove I got The Look.

You know the one.
The ones that says “I asked you multiple times if you wanted another outlet in while the walls were still open and you said no.”

Yeah. I know.

Ultimately he was a good sport and told me what would need to happen if I went through with it, and it won’t be that big a deal. I will tackle it after the painting is done.
So I also have to paint the walls, trim and soffit and install cabinet hardware and my part in the kitchen will be essentially done.

Projects that are related but not directly involved will be finding or building a cabinet for microwave and fish tank, removing all the rest of the border, and painting the dining room to match the kitchen. I am also trying to develop a mud-not-room at the other end of the dining room but I think that is going to take a little while longer.

DH suggested we consider replacing all the flooring now instead of later.

I gave him The Look.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 9:15PM
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hi Greenhaven, Your layout IS so similar to mine! Even the adjoining rooms look similar. I just found this thread today. Fascinating play by play. Your progress is astounding to me. I make one decision and then revel in the accomplishment for weeks (or more accurately, it takes weeks to recharge my batteries to face the next thing). This evening my kid and I were counting our blessings. He seemed pretty sure we had all we needed. Doesn't even notice there's no kitchen sink anymore! :)

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 9:29PM
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Dearie, don't despair over your brush.
Soak that baby in either Murphy's Oil Soap or warm, white vinegar and it'll come right off.
Do a Pinterest search. If it's latex, yup. It'll all peel off.

I can't do The Look because I start to laugh.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 9:41PM
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Can we see a picture of your horse when he/she comes home? Amazed at all you are accomplishing!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 11:14PM
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Thank you for sharing this journey greenhaven. You & your DH are an amazing team.

What's this..."I am doing nothing that cannot be done by anyone else who has a true desire to do it and the ability to Google the right info. ;) ".....uh, well.....not really! I know this is beyond my abilities! Desire or no desire...nope...never happen. So, please keep showing us all of the hard work you're doing so we can truly appreciate the people coming to our homes to do this for us! I can't wait to see more.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 11:23PM
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kbb, where on earth do you do your dishes? Still hung up on a table but now I have quartz ordered for the island.

CEFreeman, wish I had seen that before it dried. I took a sanding sponge to it after soaking in water. Not so effecrive. :/

Romy I would be proud to!

Bicyclegirl, well thanks, then. :0)

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 7:33AM
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I was very excited to find your forum! I am also just beginning a kitchen makeover and my kitchen is very similar to yours! I also just added breadboard to my island (I primed it already) and plan on painting it an off white as well as the cabinet fronts on the side. Hubby & I put in hardwood acacia floors this fall (all by ourselves! Never have done anything like that but so very pleased with how they turned out!) I hate my oak and am so worried about painting these cabinets and them looking good, but don't want to put the $$$ into all new cabinets since we plan on selling in a few years! I am
willing to try it though! We are having granite countertops put in within a few weeks and new appliances will be added sometime in the near future. (Gotta pay for the granite first!) You have inspired me...maybe I will create a
forum for my kitchen adventure too. I will definitely keep following your kitchen progress! I feel like I now have a support group!

This post was edited by teachinmom on Sat, Apr 12, 14 at 9:20

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 9:03AM
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greenhaven - luckily we are back to grilling weather. Been washing dishes in the powder room sink. Ugh. That and a lot of chipotle.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 9:45AM
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Mmm...Chipotle...well, make a decision and finish that gorgeous kitchen! I cannot get DH on board with a table, alas. I might have to sell my current set and buy a new one, those trestle tables I saw are amazing.

teachinmom, heck yes, support group! That is what these boards are all about! I am more than willing to share info with you if you need more details than I have provided here. I think you even have the same fridge as the one we just replaced, lol!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 12:40PM
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These floors are so stunning! If you're not up to painting the cabinets (an dI can't blame you), here's an update with no painting involved. They did, however, add crown molding to the cabinets and backsplash.

Here is a link that might be useful: updating oak cabinets

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 1:32PM
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Greenhaven - you just inspired me...I have several doors (not cabinet) to paint. After reading your progress report I am a bit more motivated to get my a$$ in gear. You really are doing a fabulous job. Love reading all your updates.

btw - if forgetting to clean one brush is the worst that happens with your refresh, you are doing pretty darn good. Good luck!!!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 2:07PM
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You need to start Part II...this post will terminate soon because it has almost reached 150. But before you move on, I must say 'YOU ARE MY HERO!!!". When it comes to "can do attitude" and pure courage and chutzpah, you take the cake. You have garnered yourself some real followers and admirers with what you are doing. I love seeing your progress and your new skills and absolutely find you inspirational. Keep at it. So many people are following your progress and rooting for you :)

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 1:17AM
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firsthouse, thanks for the heads-up! I did not know there could be a post limit. I will start a new one today. Will the old one still be here, just closed?

I am a little embarrassed by the accolades. I must have just grown up differently, because I feel like what I am doing is not that big a deal. If it were any more extensive (and I still might bring in a electrician because I want lights over the island) there would be a lot more professionals involved.

Pretty much most of my life I have been in the position that if I want something done I will have to do it myself. Not to say I have not had help on some projects.

Sometimes I choose to DIY because I know I can do the job and save $$ on professional fees.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 8:34AM
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Greenhaven, I think it depends on how you grow up. My dad was a jack of all trades because his dad was that way. Well long story short I was a big tomboy and tagged along with many of my dad's jobs (metal fabrication, machine fixing, electrical, plumbing, small building jobs like decks and garages.

Also at home I was the one that helped him bleed the breaks on his old 1952 1 ton box truck. I also helped him rotate the tires, change fluids and general maintenance. I was also in awe when he had to get out his engine lift (doesn't every one have one?) to put a new engine in his old truck. DH is also very handy because he grew up on a small farm and learned woodworking from his grandpa. I even felt competent enough the other day to fix my leaky S trap all by myself.

I fixed up the front porch on our old house (have to sand again and paint since winter came early last fall. :( It will be pretty when I finish, and I can transplant my little seedlings outside.

I agree with everyone else though that learning to be handy seems to be a lost art, and I told DH we will have to teach little DD everything we know. It won't be hard though since he loves to help with everything.

I am looking forward to your second thread and hope it goes as well as the first one.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 11:19AM
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