Over the years I’ve responded to dozens of letters from DPLers getting ready to remodel their homes. They’re scared and confused. My response? Oh, pish-posh! What’s the big deal? Just stick to your budget, ask a lot of questions and don’t go overboard. You’ll do fine! And be sure to send pics.
Now, it’s my turn. We’ve decided it’s time to remodel our kitchen.
I’m scared and confused. Somehow at this moment, hearing “Oh pish-posh!” from anyone might just send me over the edge. So, I’ve come up with a method of my own to deal with all of this. And it involves you. Starting today and hopefully each weekend until this project is complete, I will be posting updates in an effort to be accountable and faithful to our budget and plan. And please, stop me if I show signs of going overboard.
Harold says this is a three-month job. I’m planning on one year, minimum, with a grace period equal to however long it takes.
Here’s the background: We bought this home in 1986 from a couple of guys who bought it to fix and “flip.” This is a custom home built in 1972 by one of the best builders in Orange County, Calif., and the largest original floorplan in our immediate community. It’s built like a rock. However, previous owners trashed it both inside and out. The “flippers,” from whom we bought it, did a great job of covering up a lot of cosmetic ugliness. We knew going in that we’d have a lot of work to do in the coming years, and we have.
My husband Harold is a master cabinet and furniture maker, as a hobby. He learned by watching This Old House and New Yankee Workshop (by the way he will profiled in a coming issue of This Old House magazine in the Reader’s Corner).
Over the years he has remodeled every room in the house but the kitchen. Let’s just say his work is gorgeous. He’s built a beautiful buffet for the dining room, and just completed a full suite of furniture for our master bedroom. Our open staircase and halls are lined with raised-panel wainscoting, which is just amazing. I have built-ins throughout the house and so many cupboards and drawers, many of them sit empty―a daily reminder that just because I have space to store something doesn’t mean I need it. Yes, I’m one lucky gal.
Back to the kitchen. In 26 years we’ve done every possible patch job to it that you can imagine. This is kitchen is now past repair. It’s time. This 1980s kitchen has to go.
Doors are hanging where the hinges have broken in half.
The built-in antique microwave’s handle broke years ago and cannot be replaced because it is so ancient.
It’s being held together with duct tape and that’s no joke. Surprisingly, the thing still works like a champ.
Did I mention the low ceiling? Somewhere along the line, some brain dead designer thought it would be nice to lower the ceiling by 11-inches in the kitchen. If that was to make it feel cozy and intimate, it didn’t work. It feels closed in and claustrophobic. So the ceiling and all of the lowering structure has to go as well.
We’ve discovered that all the ceramic floor tile was installed over the original vinyl flooring. The walls in this house are all plaster on top of drywall and metal mesh. This will equate to double the demolition and trips to the dump.
To hire a contractor to gut and rebuild the kitchen from the ground up including new electrical, lighting, bringing in natural gas, plumbing, cabinets, appliances, counters and flooring throughout the kitchen and adjoining family room would be around $60,000 to $65,000 in this area, minimum. Yikes. We do not have that kind of money to invest in this house. Our budget is $25,000 cash. Period.
I’m pulling out every frugal tip, trick and negotiation skill I can muster to stay on track and get this job done without going over budget. And that’s why we are doing this ourselves at night and on weekends. Harold is the designer, demolition crew, builder, installer and tiler―I am the cleanup crew. We make a great team.
Did I mention removing a bearing wall and replacing it with a ginormous header? Yeah, that too.
So that’s where we are.
Next update: Appliances!
P.S. Yes, Harold wears a full-on respirator to avoid death by plaster powder. It’s unbelieveable how that stuff goes everywhere and it’s fine as talcum powder.