Posts categorized "Renovations"

Fireplace hearth reveal and another project started....

Fireplace hearth is gone and replaced with some fun tiles. Our toes have never been happier and I’m really happy with the result.

Picking the tiles was a bit of a challenge as we had a defined space and wanted to avoid too much cutting. Our first thought was penny tiles as they give some flexibility and are retro-nifty.  I also wanted something that would make an impact but for a small price. Enter the $1.28 porcelain tiles from Home Depot. Avoided the likelihood of cutting a million little pennies, but still ended up with only 6 tiles not cut....lessons we carried to the next phase.


We filled the hole left from our earlier excavation with dry pack and got it mostly level (nothing in this house is level so close enough is good enough). We laid out our tiles and used our cardboard jig to assess. Lots of cuts... A few hours later we rented a wet saw and got to work cutting. We had hoped to get two tiles from fireplace out, but it didn’t work without grout lines that were far too wide. Once we (well mostly I) acknowledged that the best course was to have full tiles in the middle and cut tiles all around, it went pretty quickly.


We started with a metal transition edge, then laid the tiles right on the dry pack. The tiles closest to the bricks were tricky because that line was not straight - each tile is a different width, but the busy pattern helps obscure that and again, old houses are not about straight lines.


The next day we did the grout. It was a bit more challenging than previous projects because the of the tiny spaces between the tiles - 1/16th”. There’s also something disconcerting about spreading charcoal grout over white tiles.  


The end result is lovely. There's still work to do around the fireplace and we're considering a mantel; work to keep us occupied during the current Ontario state of emergency and beyond. Some of this work is definitely not January-friendly. I also need to put something in the fireplace - I'm thinking a large basket would be nice or maybe a pretty screen. Better than an old towel plugging the old pipe.


Emboldened by our success, the tiling didn't end there. I decided that the ridiculous tiled entry way had to go. It felt even better than busting up the hearth. 

There's so much wrong here: The "mat" is too small, the pattern around the edge runs out before it goes around the larger tiles and it's just ugly. It's the same pattern as the kitchen we renovated a while ago. 


Once I busted out the old tiles, things got silly.


We removed the wood that framed the tiles to enlarge the footprint. Then we thought - how do we do this so we don't have to cut so many tiles? Or any tiles? 

Then we got out the saws.


That little one would take forever, so Craig used the circular saw and we made a hole to fit the 20cm by 20cm tiles with the grout lines. The only two tiles we had to cut framed the heating vent.


Easy Peasy...not so fast there...

This might be our most challenging DIY home improvement project yet and it shouldn’t have been. Amazing how 1/4 inch can really mess things up. More on that and the finished project soon...

Fireplace progress - call the Mason

The fireplace took some extra time to progress as we decided to hire a Mason to fix the broken bricks. This was something we researched (we over-research most of our DIY reno projects) and quickly determined that messing with a 100+ year old fireplace was best left to professionals. Because everything is slower due to the pandemic and because we chose to use a company that specialized in restoring old bricks, they didn't come until November. It was worth the wait. 

They chiseled out some bricks (with a demolition hammer and all the ensuring dust) and replaced them with the correct size Ontario bricks. They also added a steel plate along the top of the opening to support the bricks. 

No bricks

Close no bricks

(The towel is blocking the air from coming down the chimney pipe - another thing we need to deal with)

Wide shot done Close up done

The whole thing took half a day and they were good enough to bring their own water for the mortar clean up because the water main up the street broke and we were at hour 48 (of 60) of having no water (a problem at any time but again more difficult with COVID as you can't just go to people's houses and borrow 10 litres of water a couple of times a day). 

The bricks will eventually go lighter and look more similar to the original ones. We could add a thin layer of watered-down mortar to them but we've decided we like them as they are. It looks great. I'm not sure what I'll put in the space - I'm just happy it's not that old gas fireplace.

The next step is to deal with the hole where the hearth used to be. The plan is to figure out how to fill it most of the way and then add tiles to match the level of the wood floor. We tried to find a similar hardwood but couldn't and it would always look like a patch job. Better to make this part of the floor an interesting feature. 

We actually finished the work this weekend but I want to clean up a bit more and take some nicer photos. There are still a bunch of stages left - building a mantel and figuring out some sort of built-in shelving around the bricks - but filling the hole was top priority (Ralph our Roomba can't seem to avoid getting trapped in there. His cliff sensor doesn't always keep him away). 


DIY Fireplace refresh - Pandemic Edition

There's nothing like being home 99.9% of the time to encourage thoughts about the stuff in your house you don't like. 

First it was the back yard. It was about 80% of the way we wanted it and since we knew we'd be spending a lot of time there over the summer, we got the remaining 20% done and had stone installed, finally covered some eye sores and made a nice spot to be outside but away from others.


Now that Fall is here, I've turned my attention to the fireplace. You may remember back when we moved in that it could have been featured in Architectural Abomination Monthly - we pretty much removed the ghastly mantle and curved things immediately, but never really got past the removal to make it what we wanted. 


always hated the black granite on the brick and hated the black granite hearth - it juts out into the room, hurting unsuspecting toes and doing nothing but collecting dust. So a few weekends back, I took it off. It took like 10 minutes. 

IMG_2143 2

But left behind a lot of mess - black caulk (I swear the previous owner of this house had a hard-on for caulk), glue, mortar and gave me a weekend of stuff to remove that ended up being an excellent diversion from work, the world and everything.

IMG_2143 2

IMG_2143 2

Then things got silly.

The original plan was to build a new mantel, retile the hearth and think about some bookcases or something to finish the space.

I found the specs for the fireplace and did some reading on hearth requirements and b-valve fireplaces and NO GOOD COMES FROM RESEARCH. This fireplace wasn't the most efficient thing - burns natural gas to heat air in our living room and then blows the bad air out the chimney - including the air from in the house that it just heated. They rate at about 50% efficiency. The fan is noisy and well we never use it much because our house isn't cold and we all have lots of woolies (reason 123 to live with a knitter). Craig never had any use for the fireplace and after looking at pretty designs on Pinterest and sleeping on it, we decided to get rid of the fireplace. 


Which also meant we could get rid of the hearth and level the floor. Except getting rid of the hearth was a lot less easy than removing the granite or the caulk. Craig tried to remove the bricks in the hearth by hand but they were CONCRETED INTO THE FLOOR (who does that?). 

So not ideal...

But we got to rent a demolition hammer! 

It's as awesome as you imagine. We tented off that part of the room (which only sorta helped) and Craig got down to destroying stuff. 

It chewed through the brick and then we got down to the concrete. 



Of course, I got to have a turn. Pulverizing concrete with a power tool is just what a stressed-out woman needs. (This is my new profile photo at work).


It was messy, we spent a lot of money to dispose of the waste (no concrete allowed in the landfill) and the brick needs some restoration work (we're looking for a professional) but now we have no ugly hearth, no energy-wasting fireplace and well no more of the cabinetry that came with the house.


I mean if you're going to pay to remove the reno waste, might as well do it all...


It's time to rebuild...


The Big Kitchen Reveal

It's done!  Everything is unpacked!  I made banana bread, granola and dinner last night!

We love it.  What a transformation.  See for yourself:

Sink before and after

sink before and after

No more getting soaked doing the dishes. And now I can look out the window instead of feeling pushed into a teeny corner.

The view from our back door has improved

view from door before and after

No more walking into the stove. There's also more room to get into and out of the kitchen. Man that cooktop was UGLY.  And now the air vent is free and open to keep the room appropriately heated/cooled.

The north wall before and after

north wall before and after

The room is now 10x14 and was 10x12. It's a bit tricky to photograph this part since there's no where to stand. The window, cooktop, portable dishwasher and old pantry have been replaced with the most amazing pantry ever. It hold everything including cookbooks, linens and our beer empties and it's not too deep so nothing can go missing in the back.

The new bamboo floor is fantastic

floor before and after

As is the fact that the floor is now level with the rest of the house. My kids will be pleased that the tripping hazard is gone.

New backsplash

backsplash before and after

I think the photo says it all.

Now the big picture pictures. This is the view from the back door. I only had a little photo from when we first bought the house, but it gives you a good sense of the new layout of the space.  The yellow wall is gone and all the pipes inside were moved.  This made room for the fridge and created a long counter/workspace.

 sink wall before and after

Here's a bigger shot of it finished


And here's the view from the other direction

window before and after

We lost the wall oven, but replacing it with a single unit range with a microwave above created more space and allowed for a second long run of countertop. Three people could easily work in this kitchen now.

It's amazing how important a well thought out floor plan is to a kitchen. We have far more cupboards and counters now without adding much to the room. And the updating is just really beautiful.  Everything is clean and new.  The colours make me happy.  A renovation totally worth doing.

We're cooking in the kitchen (but it's not done yet)

As of Friday afternoon we were able to cook in our kitchen.  Except there are no doors on our cupboards and we aren't allowed to unpack and move back in until that part is done.

Here's a recap of those days...

Day 17:

More of the molding went up on the cabinets.  I especially like how the pantry looks now.

Day 17: Pantry

The paint was also done on the trim. It's the same colour as what we have in the rest of the main floor. It's Benjamin Moore Natural Linen. And no, it's not white, it's beige. It's also the colour of the ceiling in our living/dining room and we love it. We don't have a white ceiling in our entire house.

Day 17: Door trim

The ceiling was also painted in the kitchen. It looks white but is actually very light blue/grey. It's the lightest colour on the card from which we chose our wall paint. Benjamin Moore Whispering Spring for those playing along at home.

Day 18:

Today the kitchen gets colour and it is good.

The walls are Benjamin Moore Colorado Gray. My smart friends told me to choose a colour that would make me happy in the morning and this absolutely does. We have similar coloured chest of drawers in our entrance way to tie in the kitchen to the rest of the open-concept house. And blue is bright and cheery and works really well with the maple cabinetry.

Day 18 was also first major glitch day.  

I got a call at work from my contractor.  It seems the granite people ordered the wrong counter and it was cut and laying on our cabinets.

I came home expecting it to be awful.  I was worried they would bully me into something I didn't want.  I also worried a replacement would take long weeks where I would be without my kitchen.

Not what we ordered

It wasn't so bad.  In fact, I liked it better than the one we picked.  This wasn't in the samples we were given.  It's a dark brown with lighter brown stuff in it.  It goes better with my backsplash tiles.  

I still acted disappointed and we got a good discount.  Here it is with the sink:

Day 18 sink

After that drama, Kenny finished the paint and started on the backsplash.


Day 18: Blue!

It's better with a close up:


























Or with paint for the whole look

Day 18

That was the day I started to really see it coming together. 

The tiles are 1"x6" slate and they are irregular.  They aren't the same thickness and stuff so you have to be okay with random.  They're just rock so they're not scared of a bit of scrubbing to keep them clean. They've been sealed and I believe Kenny is going to put some other kind of finish on them to bring out the colours.  I love them.  

Day 19:

I'm sure little things get done that I don't see.  Molding goes up, kick boards are installed, stuff is caulked and sealed and joins are glued.  That stuff is important and makes the room look finished.  I'm glad it's being done and I can tell when it isn't done...but me, I'm seeing the big stuff.

Tiles were grouted and they went from fantastic to FREAKIN' FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC!

Grouted tiles

The under cabinet lighting was installed and all the plug ins and stuff were put in.

Day 19 Tiles are grouted

The fridge was moved back into the kitchen (this is shot on the morning of day 20--see how the colour makes you happy?)

Day 19 Fridge is back in the kitchen




















Day 20

Today is not a work day for my contractor. He is waiting on the cabinet doors and it's the Friday before a long weekend. He wants them to be right and doesn't want anyone to rush. I'm good with this and they will be installed on Tuesday. My stove is delivered and Kenny hooks it up. It's an LG gas convection, self cleaning oven. I have never had a self-cleaning oven and I'm super excited about the fact that it won't get all disgusting.

Day 20 My stove

Swanky eh? We didn't choose it because it has bright blue enamel inside, but we love that fact all the same.

In fact, our choices were guided by the July 2012 issue of Consumers Reports which was all about kitchen renovations. We brought it with us appliance shopping and used it to cut through the clutter of too many choices. It was super helpful. I don't know if it's a guarantee of reliability, but it's a good start and really there are too many choices out there!

Now we're using the kitchen and it is amazing. We can all be in there at once working and not bump into each other. I can wash dishes and not get soaked. I don't have to roll the dishwasher to the tap. I'm already planning all the yummy things I can cook.

Sometimes I look at it and feel like it's someone else's house.  It's hard to believe we own something so lovely.

It was a big expense and we'll be paying it down for a while. But it's worth it. I have a big stash to knit up and our kids will only be home for a few more years. It's our prime cooking years and we're going to do it in style. Next post will be the big reveal!

Almost a Kitchen

Last week can be compared to knitting a stockinette sweater for a Sumo wrestler. That sweater where you measure, knit for an hour, measure again and get the same measurement (you knitters know exactly what I mean).  

Of course, it's those slow little things that mean I have walls with no seams, and cupboards that hang straight and those little details that were missing in my old kitchen, so it's all fine.

Day 14 & 15

The wall was extended about 6 inches so the back of the fridge doesn't show.  

Extended wall

It also meant that one of the "extra" little edges Buddy seemed so fond of is gone making for a nicer transition from the dining room to the kitchen.  There used to be a little ledge coming out from that white coloured wall.  Silly.

Wall from dining room side

I also made some decisions about counters and backsplash.  The brown granite was out of stock {sad face} so we chose a black one (which has all kinds of brown and grey tones to it). It goes very nicely with the slate tiles we chose for the backsplash.

Granite and slate

Yesterday stuff started to seriously progress.

Day 16

The molding went up on the cabinets.

Molding on

Some nifty little extra cabinets were installed over the window.  Our contractor just had them made for us.  I like how he adds those extra touches.  He also decided a shaker style trim would look best around the windows and doors.

Nifty window cabinets

Now I want that as all my trim.  We have rather ornate trim and Buddy was afraid of the mitre saw so there's rosette blocks and big corner trim pieces everywhere--so not our style.  But that's another job for another time (or never).

They came up with a solid solution to the chimney area:

Chimney hiding solution

Now you can't even tell it was there AND we have a cupboard!

And our pantry is in.

Giant pantry

Notice the cup and broom for scale? Yes, it's HUGE. It's five feet wide and over 6 feet tall. It will have maple sliding doors which means we can see half of the contents all at once. The shelves are only 12 inches deep which keeps things from getting lost in the back. This cabinet was our idea (inspired by Ikea)--a good solution for a small kitchen.

Today Kenny paints, installs the trim and I'm told the counter might be installed. Last night they worked until 9pm and I believe they're going to do the same today.  I suspect he wants the work done by the long weekend and I'm totally fine with that!

Two and a half weeks and it's starting to look good

Things a moving along in the kitchen.  The day-to-day changes are less dramatic than they were and there is more wait time for things like drywall compound to dry and cabinets to arrive, but I'm told we're ahead of schedule so I'm happy.

Here's a recap of the last week and a half.

Day 8 and 9: Drywall

Day 8 Drywall

Day 8 Drywall up

Everything is now closed up and the rebuilding begins.

Day 10: Floor

So far, this has been my favourite day.

Day 10: Bamboo floor

Gorgeous eh? It's bamboo, natural colour, vertical "grain" (can grass have a grain?). It's sturdy, but soft and warm underfoot and is definitely not ugly ceramic tile.

Day 10: new floor meets old

I love it. They did a nice job where it meets with the existing floor and the giant step up is completely eliminated. Kenny left it uncovered so we could enjoy it's beauty all weekend.

Day 11: Plaster and CABINETS!

And our first glitch. Can you see it?

Day 11 Cabinets

Because there's a lot of duct work and funny little jogs in the transition from the kitchen to the dining room, there was a bit of a debate about how big the threshold should be. The cabinets decided for us and Kenny is building out the wall this week. It means some fiddling with the crown moulding in the dining room, but I'm sure you see this has to be done.

So far, this has been the only issue. Really, I can't complain.

Day 11 Bye bye ugly brick

More cabinets. The brick will be completely covered. I love how they built a special cupboard just to hide it.

Day 12: Lower cabinets

Lower cabinets

I even have pot drawers!

Day 12

Apparently there will be little cupboards over the window. I confess we let the contractor decide on a lot of these things and didn't ask a lot of questions. I think we're just happy to have something functional, but I'm loving these extra touches.

Day 13 Day of Rest

The remaining cabinetry isn't ready so today was a day off.

Today I believe my pantry arrives. I also think I hit the point where I'm a bit tired of not having a kitchen. We're at day 17 of that!

One week of kitchen renovations

I've been sending updates to my coworkers every day by email.  Seems a bit silly since I have this blog and everything.  So I'll just cut and paste everything in here (duh!).

Day 4:

Small steps on that day.  All the joists have been “sistered” to new boards to make everything level (it sloped 2” before)  The whiter boards are the new ones (you can see how they aren’t level with the old ones so the floor is more even).  And you can also see the little beach under my house!

Sistered joists

Xander has a new heating duct that isn’t jimmied together (they didn’t connect the elbows with anything so they kept coming apart). For all the gory details of how we put holes in our brand new house to fix this, stroll down As She Knits Too memory lane.

New heat duct for Xander's room

And the 2” tripping hazard in the transition from dining room to kitchen is eliminated!  Seven floors will do that to a house.

That’s a sample of my new floor too! Bamboo in Natural Vertical.  There's no way to match the hardwood on the rest of this level and while it's lovely, it's not really something we would choose so we decided to go with something completely different and a bit more modern.

Floors will be level!

This is the design idea we're going for with natural maple cabinets, bamboo flooring and a light, airy design. That's important since we are losing some of the natural light with the window change and because semi-detached houses are already a bit dark since the sides don't have windows.

I think some outside stuff is happening too since there’s siding missing.

Fixing outside vent

Shit, I just realized Kenny filled in the window area we boarded up with siding.  I mean just now.  Huh...

Days 5 & 6:

Pot lights are in:

Day 5 Pot lights

Heat/cool vent is now not under my stove but behind the door where it should be:

Floor vent

The pipe used to run under the floor completely uninsulated.  Now it’s all cozy.  This is good.

Stove is now properly vented (no more bathroom fan!)

Day 5 Proper stove vent

Stupid window that’s been broken for 3 years is gone

Day 4: Window is gone

And here’s the outside view.  Amazing match on the siding (it’s much cleaner than the original stuff, but colour is quite close)

Day 4 Fan vent and new siding

The back window has been made smaller so I can have a corner cabinet where the chimney is (the old window went right into the corner which is sorta dumb).  He used the leftover siding where the fan vent was to fill in the space so it’s all older siding here.

Day 4 Window opening

Inside view.  The window is on order.

Day 4: Window made smaller

Monday was all about plumbing.  The octopus that used to be our pipes, duct and wires that looked like this:

Octopus of pipes

Is now this:

Day 6 Sink plumbing

The pipes are sitting in a bed of insulation.  Very nice and tidy.  Kenny even redid our outside water access so everything shiny and new. 

Day 6 Pipes and insulation

Day 7: Closing Stuff Up

Kenny-awesome-contractor started putting things back together yesterday.

Solid, level, insulated subfloor (there must be 100 bags of insulation in there):

Subfloor installed

Window (I have no idea how he got this so fast!)

New window

New window from the outside

Nice neat pipe area which will be behind the fridge

New stack

Today looks like drywall.  Friday is floor.  I like this part because it's starting to look less like a pit and more like a room. 

I’m pretty sure this will be our countertop (it’s on the cabinet sample which is on the floor sample):

Cabinet, floor, counter, possible paint colour Granite counter sample

It’s really hard to photograph with an iphone at night…

I think I want a blue kitchen but want to find backsplash tiles before I decide.  I want glass mosaics but need to see what the budget says.  


3 days of kitchen demolition

Well, we're now kitchenless in the strictest sense of the word. Here's a little photo-essay of the last 3 days.

Let me say I am dizzy with happiness that I didn't have to do this work myself.  Kenny, our contractor is amazing.  The worksite is pristinely clean at the end of each day.  I only see the results of his work not all the crap he's clearing out.  Amazing.

Day 1

All the cabinets, appliances and some of the dry wall on the walls is removed.  That takes most of the day.

And yes, the freakin' stove was built into the window.  

We'll get to that chimney in Day 2.

Silly sink area is no more.

Day 2: The Floors

I actually felt a bit sorry for Kenny on this one.  Busting up a ceramic tile floor is a lot of work.  I know because I did the bathroom one.  And knowing how Jimmy Thousand Screws works, I suspect that this floor has some surprises.

I was right.

By the end of the day, there was still a floor in the house.  That wasn't what we expected.  That's because there were a lot of floors.


I bet you're wondering about that hole.  I think Kenny *needed* to know what his work was for the next day so he did a bit of cutting.

Here's a closeup:

That's dirt and garbage and THE GROUND in the hole.  And some funky tiles.

Here's the run down of the floor situation from top to ground:

  1. Ceramic Tile
  2. Cement board (it was screwed in with so many closely packed screws that Kenny couldn't get the pry bar in to get the board up.  Not fun)
  3. Plywood floor 
  4. Floor joists.  These were built ON TOP OF what follows next.  What kills me is that they built a whole new frame for the floor and didn't fucking insulate.  I repeat there was absolutely zero insulation in the floor.
  5. Old floor 1
  6. Old floor 2
  7. Original hardwood floorboards
  8. Original joists
  9. Dirt (And apparently a fuck-ton of garbage but it was all gone when I saw it.  Did I mention I love my contractor?)

That's a lot of floor.  And explains the 2 inch step from dining room to kitchen.  That's going to be gone in the new kitchen.

Oh ya, the was surrounded by drywall for about 30cm over the counter, then it was exposed (and the drywall was just sawed off, no trim, special).  Anyway, we expected it to go to the floor, since it goes through the ceiling, is exposed in Xander's room and comes out the roof.


It's floating.  I suspect there used to be a stove where the shovel handle is.  We were going to remove the bricks and support the rest at the ceiling level but whacky enough, this chimney is also on the other side of the semi-detached house.  Weirdness--a shared chimney.  So it stays and we work around it.  I bet Kenny will make sure it's stable though.  Old houses are so funny.

And it turns out the wall between the houses is even thinner than we thought.  It's basically an internal wall--they have plaster and lathe and knob and tube wiring (not sure if it's active or just the remains) and on our side of the timbers we have insulation and well nothing else.  Not to fire code, but I don't think there was a fire code in the 1900's when this was built.

I don't think I posted this before.  This is photo of our house:

See the date? 1913.  Ours is the house to the right of the horse cart (!).  It's the semi-detached on the very right with the steps going up the middle between the two porches.  So while they didn't build them like they used to (ie my house is still in pretty good shape), they also don't build them like they used to (ie they put a full cinderblock wall so both houses don't burn together!)

But I digress...

Day 3

We are floorless.

The worst news is that the house is 2" off level.  The better news is that it probably won't sink anymore because someone lifted the middle of the house a bit and built this nice cinderblock support.  For all I've said about the reno work done by previous owners, this one gets a big thumbs up from me!

Those are also the original joists.  They look good.  And yes, our kitchen sits on dirt (and a lot of junk).  Now it looks almost like a beach (as you can see I focus on the positive--maybe I'll rake it later like one of those zen gardens).

Here's Craig surveying stuff late last night:

You will notice he's almost hip deep to the joists. He pronounced it "not horrific".

I believe there's some insulating happening today.  And some "sistering" of the joists to level stuff up.

The good news is we're into the putting stuff back together phase.  Hooray!

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.