Can this sweater be saved?
3 days of kitchen demolition

Saying goodbye to my kitchen

Tomorrow is the BIG day!  My kitchen is being completely destroyed and a new one will rise from the ashes.

Well, there's this big inconvenient, expensive thing that happens in between, but it's easy to be positive the night before the BIG day.

I live in an old house.  It's at least 100 years old because I found a picture of it in the archives from 1910.  Old houses are interesting places, if your idea of interesting includes, crooked, hacked together, weird and drafty.

My kitchen has likely been renovated several times and we're pretty sure the last time was in the early 90s.  I could live with that, except it was renovated by a crazy person.  My kitchen is messed up in ways that I didn't know could happen until I bought this house.  On one of those HGTV "holy fucked up houses shows" messed up.  We've been here 5 1/2 years and it's time to say goodbye.

Of course, I need to document the fine features of my soon to be destroyed kitchen.

At first glance it looks like a normal, perhaps a bit dated, plain, functioning kitchen, and it's not like we had to pump our own water or anything, everything worked.  It's just that stuff was a tad off kilter.

Let's start with the floor.  Ceramic tile.  But why use 1 colour when you can use lots of colours and arrange them in a pattern?


It's even more interesting when you don't plan your pattern out in advance and things get a bit tricky in the corners...can you see there things went awry?

Another thing about this tile is that it's freezing in the winter.  Right at the top corner of the above photo is where it gets coldest--wear your shoes to wash the dishes cold.  The kitchen is not over a basement and one of the goals is to take up the floor and find out why the hell it's so cold by the sink.

Speaking of sinks, that's another fine feature of this kitchen.  For reasons known only to the guy who did the work (I have ceased trying to understand this guy long ago because I like my sanity) the counters are only 19" deep.  Standard counters are 25" deep (seriously, go check).  Throw in a standard kitchen sink and you get this and it makes you and the floor all wet when you wash dishes.


And try to get a frickin' pot into the sink to fill it with water.  We usually keep an old towel on the floor because of all the spills. The light switch in reach of the tap is also a big no-no since wet hands and electricity are kinda not good together.  Details, they're important. (That molding under the cabinet likes to fall off when you're doing the dishes too).

I bet you already noticed the fine tile work.  Tea pots AND flours from two different tile lines. Pretty.  There's a third tile motif on the counters.  Yes, my too narrow counters have unglazed tiles.  The kind with little pores and holes that fill with raw chicken juice and assorted bacterium.  Mmmmmm salmonella.

I try not to think of how dirty these are.  Sometimes I tell myself that they're really full of Comet cleanser so we're just eating a lot of bleach. 

The other neat thing about these counters?  The guy who built them was clearly concerned about them staying affixed to the cupboards he built (wait, that's next!) so he used a lot of long screws to set the plywood onto which the tiles are glued.  Good, long, pointy screws that scratch your hands when you stick stuff into the cupboards.

Fine finishing work eh?  And yes, the cupboards were "custom" built to accommodate the 19" depth.  The doors were purchased and the stains don't quite match since the frames are plywood.  Oh, and the upper cabinets were made shorter by 6" because of the narrower counters.  And our guy didn't really know what to do with corners, so he just butted them against each other creating these long areas which aren't reachable, but into which your stuff tends to migrate.

We found some good shit in there when we cleaned out that cupboard. And it turns out the upper cabinet cubby corner is where our surplus mugs hide.

I saved the stupidest thing in our kitchen for last.  The gas cooktop.  It's on the opposite side of the room and it's literally the thing you walk into when you come in the back door (my back was pressed against the door to take the picture below).  The cooktop is taller than the window behind it (I'll get to the blue plastic in a minute) so it was set out from the window and that shelf was put in behind it.  It used to run right into the pantry (you can see where the stain is missing in the picture) but I took out that piece in the first year so we could slide our portable dishwasher into the space.

Stupid cooktop

The shelf was about 13" wide and just floated there--WTF?

Under the shelf/stove is even funnier.  That's where the heat duct is.  So what did they do?

Yup, they just worked around it.  I suppose you have to admire buddy's ability to jimmy stuff. 

So back to the blue plastic.  That's a garbage bag holding in broken glass.  We broke the window on the outside trying to remove the old deck of a billion frickin screws.  We were impatient, and well the piece of the deck was heavy and into the window it went.  It wasn't a big deal until we looked at the damage inside.  Buddy built that shelf into the fucking window frame.  We would have to chip out the tiles or perhaps even have to remove the cooktop to change the window.

That was the final straw.  I started trying to come up with a plan to finance a new kitchen.  And for 3 or so years, that window has been boarded up and that duct tape and plastic has been accumulating almost as much grease as our "venting fan".

If it works in the bathroom, it'll be fine for the kitchen (and yes, we unscrew the grate and wash it but it's still gross).

So now the kitchen is empty and tomorrow the contractor will bust it all and take it away.  The only thing I liked about the kitchen was my fridge, which we bought and is now in the dining room as part of our makeshift kitchen area.


The next 4ish weeks are going to be interesting but it's totally worth it.



How wonderful for you! When we did ours there were so many delights that we hadn't imagined, including two more ceilings hidden above the one we could see, and between them the corpse of what the builder described as the biggest rat he'd ever seen. And when he lifted the floor there was a big pile of wood and other rubbish from an earlier renovation - a great site for termites. People are really strange sometimes.

Well I have to tell you in all my years is selling houses I don't think I've see a kitchen quite that bad. Sorry, I had to laugh a few times reading your descriptions. Good luck with the Reno and I hope you enjoy your new kitchen.

Very funny - I really wish that when you bought that house you were allowed to request information about the intelligence of the previous renovators...

Happy camping. I hope the kitchen was the only place he was able to unleash his inner Ty Pennington.

In my head your house is going to be invaded by Mike Holmes and hopefully his yummy foreman! I hope your new kitchen gets done fast and is awesome. I bet it will seem so after living with crazytown for years.

we are currently house hunting in Hamilton. May the real estate gods smile upon us and not deliver us into the former home of Harry with a Hammer. Oy is that kitchen a treat.

Wow - you actually made me feel much better about our kitchen. Good luck with the renovating! Updating our 30 year old bathrooms is next on the list (with 30-year-old gunk in areas similar to your counter tile) - we're getting close with plans but haven't geared up mentally yet for the disruption. Looking forward to seeing your new - functional! - kitchen.

Wow! I always wondered what happened to the guy who built our camp. Apparently, he took his mad talents and problem-solving skills and went to work on your kitchen! ;-) I'm sure the upheaval of a renovation will be nothing compared to cooking in that kitchen for 5+ years! Hang in there - the end is within sight!! Can't wait to see the new and vastly improved kitchen!

oh man is it not funny what people will do to save a few bucks when renovating!! In our house, the person who lived here before us decided that instead of buying 4 drawers for the kitchen, he would buy two large drawers and cut them in half and make those 2 into 4. Then did the same for both of our bathrooms. I'll tell you, it looks pretty horrible! Good luck with your renovations. I hope it all goes well! I can't wait to see it when it is done.

OMG! That's even worse than the last place we lived. Which was hilarious. Truly hilarious. So excited for you and your new kitchen!

Wow, your kitchen definitely has some quirks. Good luck with the renovation.

Just remember a kitchen renovation (especially with children still living at home) is a true test of your marriage. If you survive it without wanting to kill each other, you will survive anything. My family went through it three years ago -- no running water on the main floor, fridge in the living room, one microwave plugged in the dining room and no stove -- and we came out of it stronger than before. I don't ever want to have another kitchen reno while living in the house. And our kitchen was full of surprises like yours, as the house was built in the 1930s, including a total lack of insulation in the walls, wild electrical connections and no straight walls. But.... it's all worth it in the end!! Bon courage !

Dang. I'm glad that you are getting your kitchen redone. It looks like it would drive me bonkers within hours!

The ceramic floor actually looks nice. One downside in creating such patterns on your floor, however, is it somehow limits the floor space where you can place your kitchen furniture. One way to avoid this is through advance planning with regard to the permanent location of the said appliances.

You did say goodbye to your whole kitchen. I see you’re planning a floor-to-ceiling remodel. It could be quite stressful and time-consuming, even though a month isn’t that long. Lucky you! :D It is really funny when you’re discovering new things in your kitchen when it is already being destroyed. Good luck on the next four weeks! Stay strong, he-he.

I can sense the excitement you had when you took these photos. You just wanted to see your renovated kitchen, didn’t you? Your ceramic tile captured my attention. It still looks nice. Have you ever considered recycling those? You can turn it into a tile mosaic or install it somewhere else. I think it is still durable.

I must say that nothing beats the feeling of redecorating! You can definitely use your creativity here! You can mix and match colors and patterns on your kitchen floors tiles. Yes, it can be a bit tricky, but you will have fun looking at what you created. However, make sure that the design will go well with the overall design of your kitchen. Keep us posted!

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