A Bitch of a Kitchen

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

We moved into our new house in August. Five months later, and I've shown you very little of it. You've probably caught glimpses here or there, but I haven't openly documented how much this place has changed.

It sort of makes me feel unaccomplished, like we haven't truly finished anything. But we're actually working on putting the final touches on a few rooms right now, so I hope to be sharing some official before and after pics soon.

But first, I thought I'd start by showing you the room in our house that is next up on our list of projects. It's arguably the most important room in the house. And, oddly enough, it's the room I currently hate the most. It's received very little cosmetic love and attention thus far.

That room? It's the kitchen.

Behold: Photos of our ugly-ass kitchen, from the day after we closed on the house.

Yes, that is an ungodly amount of z-brick. Yes, those are parquet floors.

Yes, that is shoe molding being used as crown molding.

Yes, the z-brick even goes behind the refrigerator. Lucky us.

Oh, and YES, that is rosebud wallpaper, with a heart border, all of which was just installed in--wait for it--2009.

And let's not pass up the opportunity to admire the wooden heart valance/shelf thingy up above the sliding glass door.

*sigh* We have our work cut out for us, don't we?

A few things have changed. We couldn't rip down that wallpaper fast enough, and the heart shelf/valance thing was an early casualty. We also tore out the z-brick that surrounded the dishwasher. We moved our laundry from the basement to that gigantic oversized pantry (there were already laundry hookups in there). But then we got overwhelmed and distracted with other things, so the kitchen is just in a state of... ugly. Unfinished ugly.

In September/October, we ripped our family room ceiling and walls down to the studs and put up new drywall (with help from my dad, and our friends Emily and Pete). After that monster of a project, we were beaten down. So, we took a break from big projects, choosing instead to tackle things like painting and window treatments and replacing all of our hollow wooden interior doors with six-panel slab doors. And then we got through the busy holidays.

Now? Now, it's January, it's a new year, and we are ready for a project. A BIG project.

We are preparing to tackle that beast of a kitchen. To rid ourselves of z-brick forever, we have to (temporarily) remove all of the upper cabinets, the countertops, and a couple of the base cabinets in order to rip the upper portion of the walls down to the studs. Then, we'll put up new drywall, and tape/mud/sand it all. We also have plans to paint the cabinets, install a tile backsplash, replace some of the fixtures, and... replace the floors.

I'm not going to lie to myself this time; this is going to take a while. But instead of dropping off the face of the earth and stopping in to blog only occasionally with "OMG WE'RE SO BUSY, MY HOUSE IS A HELLISH MESS, I'M GOING TO DIE" posts, I figure that I'll try to keep you all updated on where we are in the process. You know, so you can live in kitchen renovation hell right along with us. :)

Right now, we're finishing up the research/planning stages, but we hope to start to buy materials in the next few weeks, and finally begin making progress (DEMO!!) in early February. We're somewhat intimidated and are still in search of a little help (Bueller?) but it has to be done! Living without a kitchen is never fun, and living without a kitchen with a toddler is like... have I used the word hell yet?

And so the countdown begins...

Have any of you tackled a big DIY kitchen renovation? Anyone have any experience with removing z-brick? How about (safely, temporarily) removing countertops without damaging them? Anyone just want to sympathize/empathize with my ugly kitchen woes? :)


Music January 17, 2012 at 11:18 PM  

In 2008, pre-baby, we did a massive renovation of our kitchen. There are tons of before and during pictures here (http://www.kodakgallery.com/gallery/creativeapps/slideShow/Main.jsp?token=272915885605:1814603538), and after pictures here (http://www.mikeandmusic.com/?p=120).

My husband and I, and our friends, did 99% of the work ourselves. All I have to say is it sucks when you're going through it, but it's totally worth it in the end.

Can't wait to read your kitchen remodeling adventures!

Vanessa January 18, 2012 at 5:01 AM  

I totally sympathise - but I will say that that has the makings of a lovely kitchen - it will be so pretty when you're done!

I'm so glad you are sharing house photos :)

I admire you for all the DIY. There is NO WAY my husband and I would tackle any of the projects you've listed. Kudos to you!

For what it's worth, I hate the cabinets in our kitchen (which was installed by the previous owners). We have nice granite surfaces, which is great, but the cabinets are made of MDF covered in - wait for it - wood effect plastic. Which has begun to peel. Lovely.

At some point we would like to replace just the cabinet doors, but frankly can't justify the expense right now.

Andrea January 18, 2012 at 8:35 AM  

We gutted and renovated the kitchen in our current house prior to moving in so we didn't have to live there through the mess.

When I was in high school, though, my mom had her kitchen completely renovated and our house was like a war zone for over two months. There were no toddlers living in the house, but my 80-something grandmother who suffered from dementia lived with us. Fun times.

Just know the things you can do with an electric skillet are endless. We didn't have an oven or range and that was how 95% of our meals were cooked.

Amanda January 18, 2012 at 8:39 AM  

I've been on hand for not just a kitchen makeover, but essentially an entire house makeover- pictures aren't digitized though, so I an't share (sorry!). I can say that we had plywood cut to match the size of the countertops and had those for a couple weeks while the new counters were being planned/ bought. I have no experience with the z-brick unfortunately. Best of luck and I look forward to reading through the adventure!

Kristin January 18, 2012 at 10:23 AM  

We gutted out entire kitchen while in the middle of wedding planning. Clearly, we were insane. My best advice is to try to set up a temporary kitchen somewhere so you don't have to eat out. I managed to cook for 6 months using a microwave, toaster oven, and george foreman. Good luck!


PhaseThreeOfLife January 18, 2012 at 1:53 PM  

Maybe I'm just weird, but I kind of dig the brick and the floors. But the rosebuds and hearts totally have to go. ;) Good luck!

Helen January 18, 2012 at 3:57 PM  

I feel you on the ugly kitchen woes. We don't have the brick, but we have our own homage to 1981 laminate & beige going on. The counters and the backsplash are the same material and the fridge and stove match it a little too perfectly. The dishwasher was replaced sometime in the last 6 years so its 2006 beige just clashes with the rest of the 1980's beige. The kitchen is on the list of things to redo. But since it is, as my father would say 'can you cook in it? then it works fine' and we are still debating if we are going to knock down the wall between the kitchen and dining room, we are stuck with the kitchen for a while longer. That and I know my husband would never agree to embark on redoing the entire thing ourselves, so I need to save up quite the kitchen fund before it'll get done. Maybe by then the 1980's will be back in style?

Becky January 18, 2012 at 7:52 PM  

Our house had an ugly kitchen too. We left it that way for two years. This past fall, we (as in a contractor and crew - not actually us) just gutted the entire downstairs of our house. We lived in our bedroom (and only our bedroom) for 2.5 months. It was awful.

The worst part about it, besides not being done fast enough and the mess/dust that is EVERYWHERE, was picking out all of the 'stuff'. I would spend my lunch breaks looking at heat registers, or outlet covers, or light fixtures, or paint samples, or floor samples, or mirrors, or sinks, or sink drains. Since we didn't do it ourselves, I can't give you any advice, but just know that it will take much longer than you think it will and cost much more too.

Good luck and I cannot wait to see pictures!

Jen January 19, 2012 at 9:27 PM  

We renovated our kitchen in 2009. Well since we live in a condo we had to pay for a contractor to do it. We don't have kids, but it was a stressful process... Definitely set up a make-shift kitchen somewhere. I had a freezer full of food and a microwave in our living room. That helped a TON. Here are the posts on my blog about it: http://www.beantownbaker.com/search/label/Kitchen%20Renovation

Suzie Thomas January 20, 2012 at 6:14 AM  

Utility sinks can be used for all of these things and more. It’s the sink that can be beat up a little more than the others.

nikinikinine January 20, 2012 at 12:03 PM  

Uh, I'm not going to lie, that kitchen is a hot mess Heather! I'm loving the updated wallpaper. I'm sure they thought when they installed it that it would be such a selling point too. SMH. You are brave for conquering it on your own. Right about now is when I'd be calling a contractor. Good luck!

Heather January 23, 2012 at 9:17 AM  

Thanks for all of the tips and encouragement, guys. We are anxious to get started. I'll certainly be keeping you updated!

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