This post is about a total kitchen remodel. Because of a flood, there really wasn’t anything resembling a kitchen in the house when I purchased it. This house, built in 1923, was meant to be mine. I needed this house, and it needed me.
This is what the kitchen looked like when I bought the house.
There had been a flood and the floors and cabinets had been removed so that there wouldn’t be a mold issue. Where had they been moved to? Well, the dining room, of course! Along with the contents of the powder room and the little laundry room where the flood had originated.
Yes, this is the house I fell in love with. I wanted a house that needed cosmetic updates. This was a little more! I’ve never renovated a house but I didn’t hesitate. I knew this was the house I wanted. In my mind, I already saw what it would be when it was completed. After some convincing, the seller agreed to sell me the house ‘as is’. And, a bank gave me a portfolio mortgage so I could do the renovations this house so badly needed.
I envisioned a much more open kitchen. Without the wall between the dining room and the kitchen. In spite of the toilet sitting in the middle of the dining room, I recognized the dining room as the most beautiful room in the house.
OK, I’m going to confess something. I saw the house before the flood. This was the original 1923 kitchen – before the flood! It was small, dark and had the oddest flow!
I knew this kitchen had potential!
That wall with the sink was just awful. It made the room dark and I just thought doing dishes there would be so depressing. The kitchen fridge even out into the doorway.
Once I closed on the house, the first thing I begged the contractor to do was to fix the hole in the kitchen floor.
It was just in the perfect spot that everyone stood on! It’s funny, when I’m in the basement and I look up where the hole was, I still see the drywall tape on the wood used to repair the hole.
The renovation started a few days after closing. My contractors and I did most of our planning prior to the closing so that when the purchase was finalized, we could begin the demo right away. And, the day after closing, we ordered the cabinets! We ordered the cabinets I envisioned in that kitchen before I even bought the house.
So, the renovation had begun!
The rest of the kitchen cabinets and flooring were removed, along with the appliances. I did peak into the cabinets before they were taken down. What year do you think this was put in? The dumpster had arrived. The cabinets were all supposed to go into the dumpster. But, I couldn’t do it. I asked that the cabinets all be put into the garage until I could either figure out what to do with them or decide once and for all to throw them out. You’ll find out another day what happened to them!
Then, the kitchen wall came down! Below is the wall looking from the kitchen to the dining room. Look how neat everyone was! And, my wooden floors in the dining room were well protected.
Remember how dark and closed off the original wall made the kitchen look?
Then the header went in and the rest of the studs were removed. The wall was gone!
The two rooms said hello to each other. And they were happy to finally see each other.
Did I mention the whole house had old aluminum knob and tube wiring? That all needed to go and the whole house had to be rewired. Let me repeat that. The whole house had to be rewired. Every switch, light fixture and outlet. Plus a new service panel. It was a huge job! In the background, on the wall, you can see the new wiring was being roughed in.
Weirdly, this picture (below) is one of my favorites of the demolition. Those were the functioning on and off switches for the lights!
The contractor and I discussed a big issue. There was no insulation in the walls. Because of the type of finish on the outside, there was a concern that blown in insulation would damage the exterior. So down the interior walls of the kitchen went. It made the wiring a lot easier!
Then insulation was added to any wall that was an exterior wall. It was one of those investments in this house that won’t be seen. But, hopefully, will make a big difference in the utility bills.
Do you see the big hole in the ceiling in the picture above? That was how the new wiring got to where the kitchen light was going. That hurt the first time I saw that. I was warned that there were going to be a bunch of holes because of the rewiring. But seeing the first few was tough.
One of my biggest concerns was how to visually join the brand new kitchen and the old beautiful dining room. What we decided to do was to remove the balance of the maple floors and replace it with oak. The whole first floor except the kitchen had been done in oak. Mind you, every room seemed to be stained a different color. The plan was we’d strip the dining room floor (and every other room) and stain one color throughout the main floor rooms.
Here are the new floors feathered into the old floors.
Then drywall! It was so awesome to see the kitchen starting to get put back together. The drywall added such a clean look! I’ve seen drywall go up before. It is fast and it usually makes a huge visual difference. You can see the wires and holes for the new electrical wiring.
All the original old trim from around the doors and the windows was removed and stored in the garage. So were the original baseboards. Later in the process, the old trim was carefully reassembled and put back around the windows and doors.
See how the new floor was protected? It’s still unfinished underneath the paper. All the construction had to be completed prior to the floors being sanded and finished.
My cabinets arrived and were quickly installed!
I remember, prior to buying this house, standing in the torn apart kitchen trying to convince the seller not to put in a quick and inexpensive kitchen. I wanted to put in the kitchen and do it the way I wanted. At one point the seller was going to pay for the kitchen but I would be able to choose the finishes (but stay within the insurance settlement budget). In that kitchen, we finally came to an agreement to close without a kitchen.
One of the contractors at the meeting asked what I envisioned the kitchen looking like. That’s when I told everyone I’d take out the wall between the kitchen and dining room, I’d move the kitchen sink to under the window, move the dishwasher beside the sink but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out where to put the fridge : ).
I worked with an amazing interior designer who figured that out for me! And helped me with the practical items and some cosmetic choices of doing a major remodel. She is amazing and really figured out my style and tastes quickly. Plus, she always did her best to keep me in budget (not always successfully, but that’s another story!
I digressed. My kitchen cabinets came and were installed!
As you can see, the electrical was also moving forward and my new light fixtures were installed.
Once the cabinets were in, then the granite people could come and measure for the counters.
At one point, the contractor was going to put in a temporary sink and a small section of a temporary counter so I had a functioning kitchen.
The counters came, but the appliances didn’t.
I moved in any way because the apartment I was renting had been rented out and I couldn’t extend my lease. I slept on an air mattress for over three weeks, but that’s another story!
How did I survive without appliances? I posted these pictures on Facebook, much to the amusement of my friends and coworkers.
You do what you have to do! That really was a crappy fridge.
My floors were finished/refinished and I couldn’t have been more pleased.
Here is how they look now, the old and the new match perfectly. Amazing since the original floors are 95 years old!
Love my floors!
Let me show you my kitchen and dining room now. I am beyond thrilled with how everything turned out. The old and the new just look great together.
“Hey dining room,” said the kitchen. “Where have you been all my life”
“Hiding behind a wall,” said the dining room.
That wall is now gone. A beautiful new kitchen joins a 95-year-old dining room.
A look at the dining room. I’m so thankful to everyone who worked on my home. They demo’d, built new, rewired, replumbed and did all kinds of ‘construction stuff’ and respected and appreciated the beautiful character of this old house. Everything turned out beautifully!
I love this dining room table. A friend of mine found it for me and refinished it. It was a popular dining room set from the ’20’s.
Do you see how the new kitchen and the old dining room are now just the best of friends? Totally inseparable and that’s how they should be!
Every single time I come home and walk in the door, I appreciate how amazing this house is. It’s been a journey to get here. I’m not just talking about a kitchen renovation. For more of a background to how I got to this point, click through to this post called New Beginnings – Me and My Fixer Upper.
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